I have never subscribed to the ‘us and them’ theory during the summer months but this season it’s painfully obvious Cricket Australia has picked its target and gone straight for the boutique sized Melbourne City club.
Football fans can brace themselves for some Malcolm Conn smugness as back to back Melbourne BBL derbies go head to head with two City fixtures. Crowds at the cricket will be significantly greater over the next two Saturday nights but football fans shouldn’t worry.
This season the BBL has taken aim at its target in Melbourne City and thrown two showcase games at the football club. Whilst City tried to experiment with Friday night games earlier in the season this is their first chance at the strong Saturday night football market.
City has been criticized earlier in the season by many for not attracting big crowds and not providing the football public of Australia with an international marquee worthy of following in the footsteps of Dwight Yorke and Alessandro Del Piero but I firmly believe what City have managed to provide this season is a true reflection of the ever changing football world in Australia and how the A-League is positioned in the global football market.
In previous seasons the BBL has gone up against both Melbourne teams with mixed results. When going directly against Victory crowd’s cricket has attracted disappointing crowds and has been outpointed on every occasion both codes have played a non derby game. On the other hand cricket has been the winner by a significant margin on the only occasion City has played at the same time as the Stars/Renegades derby.
Cricket has the clear advantage when it comes to dictating the play because the Big Bash schedule is released when administrators are fully aware of the A-League schedule. The FFA and Melbourne City shouldn’t feel aggrieved at the current situation coming up against the Big Bash Melbourne Derby twice in eight days and shouldn’t even consider changing the schedule but should be aware of the situation at hand.
The next time Football Australia has to negotiate with Cricket Australia over a significant issue this should be kept in the back of David Gallop’s thoughts. Ideally sports fans should be able to maximise their sporting experiences through various outlets but this battle between Cricket and Football does affect those Melbourne sports fans who partake in both sports.
In the modern world of commercialised sport deliberate fixture clashes in the one city will occur more and more, sadly sports fans have to make a decision and miss one event or the other.
I will be at the City game, keeping an eye on the BBL scores but will always be far more emotionally invested in a competition that runs for more than six weeks a year.
Previous A-League/BBL clashed in Melbourne
*Attendance figures in brackets, bold text signifies a Melbourne Derby game*
Melbourne Stars against Perth Scorchers (19,840)
Melbourne Heart against Adelaide United (8,272)
Melbourne Renegades against Melbourne Stars (40,227)
Melbourne Victory against Newcastle Jets (14,897)
Melbourne Stars against Hobart Hurricanes (11,184)
Melbourne Victory against Brisbane Roar (17,128)
Melbourne Renegades against Brisbane Heat (7,023)
Melbourne Heart against Melbourne Victory (26,457)
Melbourne Stars against Melbourne Renegades (46,581)
Melbourne Heart against Brisbane Roar (6,303)
Melbourne Renegades against Melbourne Stars (42,837)
Melbourne Victory against Brisbane Roar (23,121)
Melbourne Renegades against Sydney Thunder (10,896)
Melbourne Victory against Western Sydney (14,774)
Melbourne Stats against Hobart Hurricanes (18,284)
Melbourne City against Melbourne Victory (26,372)
Melbourne Stars against Melbourne Renegades
Melbourne City against Sydney FC
Melbourne Renegades against Melbourne Stars
Melbourne City against Western Sydney