A-League in embarrassing U-Turn on controversial $12million grand final deal that set off disgraceful pitch invasion leaving goalie seriously hurt

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  • $12million deal with Destination NSW set to be scrapped
  • A-League Grand Finals were to be played in Sydney until 2025
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off!

In what would be an embarrassing sporting U-Turn, the A-Leagues are set to scrap their controversial three-year, $12million grand final deal with Destination NSW.

The agreement was announced days after the Socceroos reached the round of 16 at last year’s World Cup in Qatar – and sparked fury with football fans across the nation. 

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On December 17 last year with tension mounting, a pitch invasion at AAMI Park saw Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover, referee Alex King, plus a TV cameraman and two security guards injured in wild scenes.

The Melbourne derby was also abandoned due to safety fears.

Subsequent sanctions handed down included a record $550,000 fine and a suspended 10-point deduction for the Victory.

The three-year, $12million grand final deal left many fans furious - with some so angry they disgraced the game by invading the pitch at a Melbourne City vs Victory game last December (pictured, City's Tom Glover after being injured in the chaos)

The three-year, $12million grand final deal left many fans furious – with some so angry they disgraced the game by invading the pitch at a Melbourne City vs Victory game last December (pictured, City’s Tom Glover after being injured in the chaos)

In scenes which generated unwanted global headlines, fans stormed the pitch at AAMI Park to protest the APL's decision

In scenes which generated unwanted global headlines, fans stormed the pitch at AAMI Park to protest the APL’s decision 

‘Bucket man’ Alex Agelopoulos, 23, was caught on camera attacking Glover in infamous scenes and was later handed a suspended three-month jail sentence.

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Other furious fans opted to boycott fixtures, including supporters from Sydney FC’s The Cove, who didn’t attend the elimination final against the Wanderers back in May in a defiant message to the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) and Football Australia.

The $12million deal with the APL and Destination NSW was locked in until 2025, and was set to see deciders for the men’s and women’s competitions staged in Sydney.

It is a model the NRL and AFL use for their grand finals in Sydney and Melbourne respectively. 

APL CEO Danny Townsend was said to be stunned by the level of criticism following the announcement, as he firmly believed it was the way forward for the code on local shores.  

In April, Sydney FC took on Western United in the women’s grand final at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta, with the men’s clash featuring Melbourne City and the Central Coast Mariners in early June.

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Nick Montgomery’s Mariners turned on the style, winning 6-1 in front of a healthy crowd – but if the decider had featured two teams from interstate, the belief in football circles was that the crowd would have been embarrassingly low.

It is understood the revamped deal with Destination NSW will see a ‘Magic Round’ staged across NSW for both competitions across one weekend – and the grand final will be hosted by the team that earns the right to stage the decider.

This is a sporting tradition stretching back to the now-defunct National Soccer League (NSL) and is popular with football fans. 

Daily Mail Australia has approached the APL for comment.

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