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Campaign #OneNineNine

Over the summer Bradford City has run an impressive #onefournine campaign over social media. For those not familiar with the campaign the onefournine depicts the cost of a season ticket for the 2015/16 season; 149 pounds. The result of this campaign has been astounding with over 17,500 season tickets already being sold before the commencement of the season.

When you look deeper into the #onefournine campaign some numbers start to resinate with the average football fan. Last season Bradford was the second highest attended League One team (Behind Sheffield United) averaging 13,353 fans. This is a far cry from the capacity of Valley Parade of 25,136 and works out to 53% capacity. A Quarter Final FA Cup tie saw 24,321 fans attend which was the peak for the club both on and off the pitch. Although the club performed well, just missing the playoffs and attracting the second most home fans in the league the club realised there was potential to grow their fan base even more.

You may read this and think how this is even relevant to the fans of Australian football. Well I believe what Bradford City are doing in 2015/16 is very relevant. Too often we are too quick to draw comparisons to the Premier League or Bundesliga when watching the A-League. Casual fans of football catch a glimpse of the A-League at home or down the pub over the summer and the first things that catch their attention are the empty stadiums and the slow build up of play.   No matter what the sport is when you see near empty stadiums it automatically detracts from the experience and fails to engage any member of the public.

Let’s go back to the 53% capacity of Valley Parade. Now League One isn’t the greatest league in the world but the fans are as passionate as any club and the 53% figure is very relevant to the Australian market. Only three clubs (Adelaide, Victory and Western Sydney) boast a superior stadium capacity, something Australian football needs to steadily improve on. When you break down the crowd figures of the A-League the numbers are pathetic in comparison to the size of the stadia we are choosing to play in. Instead of looking at this as a negative why don’t those running the clubs look at this as a major opportunity and use the case studies of clubs throughout the globe to improve our league at home.

The #onefournine campaign should be viewed as the perfect case study for the majority of A-League clubs. This season Bradford City has taken their attendance figures from an average of 53% to 71% ground capacity. Whilst only early days this number should hover around the 70% mark given the amount of season tickets sold. When you take a quick look at the numbers produced by A-League clubs you can’t help but see opportunity.

CLUB

STADIUM

AVERAGE CROWD

CAPACITY

CAPACIY (%)

Adelaide United Coopers Stadium

11,061

17,000

65%

Brisbane Roar Suncorp Stadium

11,660

52,000

22%

Central Coast Central Coast Stadium

7,585

20,059

38%

Melbourne City AAMI Park

10,374

30,050

35%

Melbourne Victory AAMI Park

21,419

30,050

71%

Newcastle Jets Hunter Stadium

8,968

33,000

27%

Perth Glory NIB Stadium

9,542

20,500

47%

Sydney FC Allianz Stadium

18,050

45,000

40%

Wellington Phoenix Westpac Stadium

8,689

34,000

26%

Western Sydney Parramatta Stadium

12,520

21,400

59%

Melbourne Victory also played home games at Etihad Stadium with an average capacity of 65%

 

As you can see from the numbers above there are plenty of empty seats during the A-League season. More needs to be done by clubs to entice fans to attend games in person. Clubs are suffering huge financial hurdles and the recent examples of financial mismanagement of Newcastle Jets and Brisbane Roar are alarming to say the least for every A-League fan, not just supporters of those two teams.

With the exception of Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory the other eight clubs could do worse than to look at the #onefournine campaign.

Essentially the Bradford City campaign has reduced the price of a season ticket by 25% in return for an extra 30% of sales at the beginning of the season. On face value the funds raised for the club isn’t a significant amount but when you look at the potential for future earnings from the new fans created by the campaign.

Could such a campaign work in the A-League? Of course it can but it would be hard to establish such a campaign before the 2015/16 season commences. Because membership campaigns have already been rolled out any price reduction would be negatively seen by existing members but if campaigns were targeted correctly current fans would more than likely make exceptions ‘for the good of the club’. Reduced price memberships wouldn’t impact the premium members of the club as the new memberships would most likely be considered your basic type of membership.

Due to the membership waiting list at Western Sydney and the superior figures Melbourne Victory these two clubs would need to be excluded from any such campaign. Given how the majority of clubs could use the initiative to great affect the campaign could be run as a league wide campaign.

When you look at the prices for a standard membership across the A-League clubs you could set the reduced price membership at $199 and limit the amount available per club depending on figures from last season and the capacity at each home stadium. Clubs would still be encouraged to sell their various membership packages but Campaign #OneNineNine could benefit 80% of the clubs in the league.

Average Crowd

#OneNineNine Packages Available

Increased Attendance (%)

Adelaide United

11,061

2,500

22%

Brisbane Roar

11,660

2,500

21%

Central Coast

7,585

2,000

26%

Melbourne City

10,374

2,500

24%

Newcastle Jets

8,968

2,000

22%

Perth Glory

9,542

2,000

21%

Sydney FC

18,050

2,500

14%

Wellington Phoenix

8,689

2,000

23%

 

In total 18,000 memberships would be available under the #OneNineNine campaign with a potential increased attendance sitting at around 20% for the clubs involved.

Far too often in Australia we see the stadiums we use far too unsuitable for the events being played. We tend to accommodate the bigger ‘one off’ events whilst spending the majority of the season watching our elite sportsman playing to sparsely populated stadiums. When you compare the attendance figures of the A-League to comparable leagues around the world the numbers stack up pretty well but because we have a love for over sized stadiums the presentation of our league looks the poorer for this.

We should do more not only increase the attendance figures for our game, but take on board what is working throughout the world and what would suit our A-League.

Not only is the A-League competing against every other sport in Australia but we are also competing against the various leagues around the world. Factors such as squad size, salary cap and geographic location all conspire against us.

Let’s work smarter and together the A-League can reach the potential we all know it can.

About David Hards (486 Articles)
The Founder of FTSAUS. A foundation Melbourne City man who is more than willing to voice his opinion, no matter how wrong it could be. An average goalkeeper or makeshift right back who had more bad days than good on the pitch, but still loved every minute of it. Follow on Twitter: @Hardsy05
Contact: Twitter
  • Jason Tamburrini

    Enjoyed the article mate and I agree with the theory.

    only issue is that newcastle Jets have a lot cheaper memberships… But whilst they wouldn’t be eligible for the #oneninenine in this regards, their history supports your argument.

    When tinkler came in, about 4 seasons ago, he slashed membership costs to bring in the fans. In the space of one season, memberships went from something like 4,000 to over 10,000. Furthermore the average attendances went from 6-8k to 12-14k in the space of a season or two.

    Potentially you’d look at bringing in the #oneninenine for new members only… And as you said, market it correctly so that existing members paying more can see the benefits of this. Fans may only have one season at these prices for example.

    To further on your point about revenue streams would be increased elsewhere, I agree. Mainly in three regards:
    – future memberships
    – bringing friends/family to the game further increasing the growth
    – merchandise sales

    More to the point of the greater good… The more people being exposed to the games means the more people who will become invested…. This will translate into increased sponsorship, TV rights etc.

    Have always thought this, but glad you brought an overseas example into this. And the hashtag is something that could really could be marketed correctly, especially if it’s universal across the league.

    Let’s hope this is being considered if not at the individual clubs but at a league hq.

  • manny

    Good artical I think some clubs need to play in smaller stadiums to reflect there attendance