As a Gold Coast resident and football fan, I am embarrassed by the board’s decision to cap crowds at 5,000. It is a backward step for football on the Coast and the A-League in general.
I feel sorry for the players, and Jason Culina in particular. He came home to support football in this country and it is a pity he has been let down badly by an incompetent administration, not the fans!
I am sick of hearing people (including players) say once they start winning again and play more attractive football, crowds will increase. No, this is not and never has been the issue. The two major issues are ticket prices and marketing. A ticket to a Gold Coast game is the most expensive in the A-League. I am at a loss to understand how a new club entering the league can charge more than other well-established clubs, and more than double the price of other new club, North Queensland Fury!
I know a lot of people (including some who never watch football) were very interested in going to watch a game, but couldn’t justify spending over $30 for “cheap seats”. And they all ask the same question – “Why didn’t they build up a following first and then increase ticket prices later?”
The average person couldn’t care less about stadium deals and high operating costs – patrons shouldn’t have to pay for its administrator’s poor business negotiations. I believe if the ticket prices were more reasonable from the start, we would be seeing nearly double the recent crowd numbers.
As for marketing, I am going to have to take their word on all the work they say they have done in this area, because I have not seen or heard any.
If you look at any successful football club anywhere in the world, they have built a following by listening to the fans and engaging the community. The Gold Coast United owner and CEO have done the complete opposite by alienating fans and ignoring the rest of the Gold Coast.
Last week, CEO Clive Mensink was at a loss to explain the poor crowds, now this week he uses the global financial crises as an excuse. While this may be a valid reason (I too lost my job earlier this year), if they knew people were struggling financially, why did they set the ticket prices so high from the start?
I hope Mr Palmer and his board enjoy a challenge, because it is going to take a long time and a lot of work to win back the supporters. While for the majority of the Gold Coast public, it is already too late. You only get one chance at a first impression.