Wanderers boss says competition deserves a seat the same table as other football codes.
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic believes the 2012-2013 A-league season could be the springboard the code is looking for in Australia.
On the back of the most successful season statistically in its eight year history, the Wanderers leader said other codes should be “looking over their shoulder”.
The A-League has had an at times rocky history in just eight years, with highs including the signing of stars such as Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey, Shinji Ono and Dwight York.
However, those big names have been off-set by financial difficulties for most clubs along with the folding of the Gold Coast and Northern Queensland licences.
Despite the ups and downs, Popovic believes the future of the code is bright if it can be managed properly.
“We’ve certainly arrived and I’m sure they’re looking over their shoulders to see what we’re doing and why we’ve improved so much,” Popovic said.
“But we’ve all got a part to play, all codes can fit in. There is room for everyone and it’s nice we’re creating our own space and interest.
“I think on the field the game has improved. I think it’s a better spectacle, the quality of football is better. And I think off the field the way the clubs are run is improving, the fan base is improving.”
While the Central Coast Mariners’ win in the grand final was a fitting way for the season to end, there were plenty of positive numbers to come out of the season for the A-League.
A television audience of 297,000 tuned in to watch the decider with a bumper crowd of 42,102 at Allianz Stadium.
Average audiences were up 23 per cent while games were watched by 2.8 million viewers.
Some of the credit for the improved numbers has to go to the introduction of the Wanderers, which has captured the imagination of the football-mad western suburbs of Sydney.
Despite the heartbreak of losing in their first season, Popovic said his young side will use the pain to go one step further in 2013-2014.
“A new club has come in and our fans have played a huge part in elevating interest,” Popovic said.
“Hopefully we’ll just get bigger and better and I think all clubs will hopefully be stronger and their fan base will try and rival ours.”