A-League playoff race tight with 2 rounds to go
SYDNEY (AP) — Two points separate the top five teams in Australia’s A-League ahead of a playoff scenario complicated by a Football Federation Australia ruling which will ban the Perth Glory from the finals for salary cap infringements.
Edson Montano scored the game’s only goal in the 54th minute of Newcastle’s away win over first-place Melbourne Victory, while Alex Brosque had a pair of goals in second-place Sydney’s 3-0 win over third-place Glory in Perth.
Hours before the match Friday, Perth was fined and told it would finish in seventh place — one outside a playoff spot — due to the salary cap breaches which saw some players paid through family members or agents.
The Glory have filed a court injunction in an attempt to stop the FFA ban, and have seven days to appeal the ruling. There are two rounds remaining in the regular season.
On Saturday, defending champions Brisbane, the team likely to benefit from the Glory’s playoff ban, beat Adelaide United 3-2, with United missing a chance to move into first place with a win.
On Sunday, in the final match of the 25th round, fifth-place Wellington Phoenix could move into first place with a win over Melbourne City.
At the Perth match, Glory fans vented their frustrations with the club’s hierarchy. On the way into the ground, one of Glory’s supporter groups chanted “We want Sagey out” in reference to owner Tony Sage.
During the game, flares were set off within the club’s active supporter group section, and the situation escalated after Sydney went 3-0 up in the second half. Two persons were arrested by police.
Glory coach Kenny Lowe said FFA’s decision was hard to take so close to Friday’s kickoff.
“They’re going to be disappointed. They’ve worked ever so hard to get into a fantastic position,” Lowe said of his players. “But we’re professionals. We get paid to do a job. As hard as it is, that’s what we’re going to do for the next two games.”
Brisbane is in seventh place, now three points behind sixth-place Melbourne City with its win Saturday. But both teams would qualify for the playoffs if the Perth ban is carried through.