The expropriation of goodwill and migrant labour in the transition to Australian Football's A-League

Kieran James, Rex Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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This article explores ethical and financial issues in connection with the cancellation of Australia’s National Soccer League (NSL), at the end of the 2003-2004 season, and its replacement with the corporatist A-League competition which excluded the ethnic clubs which had made up the bulk of the NSL. These ethnic clubs had been formed by and revolved around Croatian, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Macedonian, Jewish, Polish, Serbian, and Yugoslav ethnic communities based in Australia’s major cities. Many commentators were of the opinion that one of the aims of the A-League and its “ground-zero” or “scorched-earth” ideology was to institute exclusion of the ethnic clubs that had formed the backbone of the NSL for 30 years. Interview responses from ethnic club administrators and supporters are our primary data source. We conclude that fans and volunteer labour forces of the ethnic clubs have been alienated, in the Marxist sense, from the A-League; the A-League clubs; and the ruling clique that controls Football Federation Australia (FFA). There are lessons to be learned here for sports industry marketers and managers. Extreme solutions enforced in a top-down manner, combined with ground-zero ideology, can create disenfranchised groups. These groups, resentful of being written out of both history and the future, store their grievances up only to agitate again years later when the environment appears less hostile.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-452
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Management and Marketing
Issue number5
Early online date6 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2018


  • Alienation
  • Soccer sociology
  • Soccer history
  • Marxism
  • Football hooliganism
  • Croatian Diaspora: Croatian nationalism
  • Australian football


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