As the ICC circus leaves town we once again raise questions about where all these football fans suddenly appeared from. Well here’s a thought; most who visit football game (even exhibition games) are genuine fans of the game.
Yes, exhibition games are mainly meaningless and predominantly dull affairs but if it brings Cristiano Ronaldo, Raheem Sterling and Francesco Totti to my home town you can’t help be excited by the concept. Along with the big names comes the big price tag and shelling out ridiculous money for tickets. The ticket price for Real Madrid and Manchester City were more expensive than most A-League grand final tickets, the pinnacle of domestic football in Australia.
I detest the terms ‘Eurosnob’ and ‘plastic fans’ they not only paint an unfair picture of individuals who decide to spend hundreds of dollars to witness the world’s best players grace our turf. Instead of driving a divide between A-League fans and general football fans in Australia we should be doing more to promote the game throughout all levels.
We shouldn’t be asking “Where are all the Eurosnobs during the A-League season?” but “What it the FFA doing to entice the fans to attend the league”. We must remember the A-League has only been in existence for 10 seasons and it hasn’t been smooth sailing throughout the decade. On face value football in Australia is going through some exciting times, we have successfully qualified for three consecutive World Cups and are reigning Asian Cup champions. Last summer we hosted the hugely successful Asian Cup but sadly fell into old habits when the A-League recommenced.
The FFA must be prepared to embrace all football throughout Australia. For too long they have turned their back on many years of football history and largely ignored former NSL clubs. The FFA Cup is a step in the right direction but with the NCIP still in existence many fans will stay away in droves from anything associated with the FFA.
In its current state the A-League is a good league, but not a great league to watch or support. The limited ten team competition loses interest midway through the repetitive nature of the home and away season. The finals system rewarding 60% of teams making the finals borders on insanity and is desperate need of a revamp. Whilst we don’t have a promotion and relegation system the FFA sees the six team finals system as a compromise to keep all clubs interested in the 27 round season. The salary cap is another issue strangling the competition and not rewarding clubs to develop players. Whilst we have to run a financially responsible competition we still need to reward clubs and look beyond the restrictive salary cap.
So it’s easy to see our prime domestic competition is far from ideal, but we must remember many improvements have been made over the last decade or so. When you break down the A-League and some of the thinking from those at the FFA HQ it’s far easier to see why so many football fans in Australia stay away from the A-League and only come out for the biggest of occasions.
The FFA must do more to engage these fans and find out why they are staying away from the A-League. The corporate world of modern football places many restrictions on promoting the local product whilst the ICC circus remains. Many watching the telecasts throughout the last week wouldn’t have seen a single promotion for the A-League, FFA Cup or Australian football in general but did see plenty of gambling and Audi adverts.
Next time you accuse family, friends or work colleagues of being a Eurosnob for their choice in football ask they why they don’t attend local football instead of going straight for the jugular. Euro snob is an ugly term and immediately places football fans offside. You are not a better football fan for watching Newcastle in the driving rain struggle against Sydney FC, you are merely a different type of fan.
Football brings joy to millions of fans every day, let’s hope a few more come out to enjoy the A-League and FFA Cup this season, but more importantly we see those who run the game do more for every football supporter in Australia; not just the select few they seemed to be focused on at the moment.Google+