Bad technological glitch has Newcastle fans pitching offside
FOOTBALL: The dust has finally settled on another season of the Hyundai A-League, one which has been headlined by declining crowd figures, poor TV ratings and a general reduced lack of interest.
With the dominance of Sydney FC over the rest of the competition, a lack of crowd-drawing marquee players and a seemingly incompetent FFA, the league has faced many struggles.
That's why, as a passionate football fan and an even more passionate Brisbane Roar fan, I was excited for the start of the finals series.
While it's a competition that promotes mediocrity with a top-six in a 10-team competition, I believe the finals series is important in providing big spectacle games.
The two elimination finals drew average audiences and made a strong argument for why the series could be altered to facilitate those finishing only in the top four.
The semi finals, however, produced beautiful moments that sum up why football is indeed the beautiful game.
Spectacular goals from Australian youngsters like Riley McGree and the emotional turn of fortune for players like Terry Antonis who propelled Melbourne Victory into the big dance after he scored a stoppage time own goal.
Those moments combined with a team like Newcastle Jets to host the grand final in a packed out regional stadium gave me great hope for the future of the game in this country.
That is, until it was soured by another dreadful performance from Australian referees.
Victory scored a ninth-minute goal, and replays showed players to be clearly offside in the lead-up.
It's a situation that could have been prevented through the use of Video Assistant Referees - a technology that has been present all season.
But to the dismay of most pundits, the technology failed to pick up the clear and obvious error - one which ultimately cost the Newcastle Jets the game and a fairytale ending to their season.
The VAR technology was introduced into the league to prevent big games like a grand final being ruined by incorrect refereeing decisions.
Yet, it did not do its job. It is a frustrating trend in the A-League with games ruined by poor decisions.
It is incomprehensible that technology failed to prevent the controversy, with the game's showpiece occasion now defined by a moment of madness in the refereeing box.
As if fans weren't upset enough, Football Federation Australia made things even worse with their excuse of why it was missed. Apparently, "the capture software that uploads the broadcast feed into the VAR system was partially lost 30 seconds before Victory's goal due to a malfunction of software".
The technology, which has been in use all season and never failed, just happened to have a hiccup at that exact pivotal moment.
It's extremely hard to swallow for most fans, and ruins what has been a big few weeks of finals football.
In a league already struggling, it becomes another dagger blow - one I hope won't be fatal.