First the article from Michael Lynch on the matter.
Clubs told not to play in state cup
May 19, 2011
VICTORIAN state and lower league clubs' hopes of taking on Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart in an FA Cup-style knockout competition have been shattered after the game's governing body forbade the A-League clubs taking part in the inaugural Mirabella Cup.
The competition was launched this year to replace the Dockerty Cup, with around 150 clubs statewide looking to pull off the ultimate giant-killing act against the A-League sides, who were given a bye until the quarter-finals.
That stage of the tournament has yet to be reached, but Victory and Heart will not be there after Football Federation Australia ruled that they should not be involved.
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The peak body fears that its own efforts to set up a nationwide FFA Cup - modelled on the English competition - next year could be compromised by the Victorian tournament. It doesn't want the Victorian competition to erode its chances of gaining significant sponsorship revenue and media coverage.
Football Federation Victoria went ahead with its concept after initially being given the go-ahead to include the two local A-League teams, but an FFA spokesman yesterday said that the situation was now different.
"Since the initial discussions about Victory and Heart participating in the Mirabella Cup, the landscape has changed significantly," he said.
"Having one state and two A-League clubs pre-empt a truly national cup competition is liable to erode the work that has been done and diminish that essential ingredient [the shock value of David v Goliath clashes].
''Many stakeholders want to see the FFA Cup come to life and we need to give the idea every chance of success."
This is absolutely hilarious.
There are many things now to consider in regards to this tournament, many of which have already been brought up by the diligent citizens of the Victorian soccer public, and I combine many of these considerations with some of my own.
Firstly, because of the absence of these two sides, the draw is now stuffed. We currently have 24 sides left. After the next round it will be 12. Then 6. And that's where Heart and Victory were supposed to come in. How will the FFV work their way out of this one? Perhaps they will make use of a lucky loser system - but then which losers to choose? I doubt they would resort to using Western Suburbs and Richmond - the only sides from the top two divisions who didn't enter - but you never know with this mob.
From the same people who were spreading the rumours for some weeks that the Heart and Victory would pull out, come the rumours that the total prizemoney has been reduced from $50k down to $30k or $25k, but the FFV have come out and guaranteed the $50k amount will stand. But it does raise questions about the future of the tournament - Mirabella would have invested in this competition to the extent it has precisely because of the involvement of the A-League sides.
There would no doubt also have been teams who were tipped over the edge into paying the entry fees with the hope, however remote, that they might score a fixture against one of these two sides and rake in significant money at the gate and canteens. And what about those entry fees? Any chance of at least a partial refund to clubs who were promised something which will now not come to fruition?
And what's with the FFA using the FFA Cup line? Memo to FFA CEO Ben Buckley - the FFA Cup doesn't exist yet. So where's the interference? It also demonstrates to an extent the lack of autonomy that A-League franchises have over the running of their daily affairs and even pre-season playing schedules. In addition to that, there's also the matter of how the state and national bodies deal with each other. It would be staggering, but not at all surprising, if the FFV didn't somehow manage to get an ironclad guarantee from the FFA that Heart and Victory would participate. Maybe they didn't even check with the FFA, thinking that the Heart and Victory could decide for themselves.
Personally, I say good riddance to Heart and Victory's participation anyway. While I understand the benefits and interest that many people were looking forward to having injected into the local scene, but for several mostly petty reasons, I was never for their inclusion in such a competition, nor did I hold much hope of a regular re-introduction of a cup tournament reinvigorating much of anything, so therefore it's not too much skin off my back. I actually find this entire situation quite hilarious, just something else to add to the glorious history of Australian soccer administration.
And to be fair to the FFA, why would you want to be associated with the bloodbath that will be Preston vs Heidelberg in the next round?