Is the ACL the FFA’s Achilles heel?
Roar expert Mike Tuckerman wrote in his article for the FFA: “the build up to the game (between Brisbane Roar and FC Tokyo) is intriguing and as the game draws near, hopefully it’s one Hyundai A-League fans begin to appreciate”.
Notwithstanding Mike’s enthusiastic analysis, the current lack of promotion of the tournament may have average A-League fans wondering: what is the ACL? Isn’t it something that holds your knee together?
The Asian Champions League is exactly what it sounds like, a tournament involving the champion clubs from, to quote Lyall Gorman of the FFA, ‘FIFA’s most populous conferation’ that being Asia.
The A-League has three clubs competing this year, Brisbane Roar, the Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, with three games per club at their home grounds against some of Asia’s finest.
The FFA’s head of the A–League, Lyall Gorman wrote in a recent article responding to criticism of the scheduling of ACL games ‘we should rejoice that we are part of a club competition that encompasses half the worlds population and the fastest growing region on the planet.’
Lyall also wrote ‘Isolated in Oceania, Australian clubs craved the international exposure and higher competition of FIFA’s most populous confederation. Spin the clock forward to 2007 and the dream turned to reality.’
But less than six weeks before kick-off, is the FFA letting the dream turn into a nightmare?
Recent phone calls to Ticketek enquiring about ticket availability yielded the unexpected response: “The Asian what? Sorry, don’t have a listing for it.”
A call to the FFA: “Yeah mate, it’s the club’s responsibility to promote the games, you should talk to club management about tickets and promotion of the matches.”
A few more calls determined that tickets are on sale from 20th of February – a mere 15 days before the Roar play FC Tokyo at Suncorp Stadium on March 6 – the first match of the Championship to be played on Australian soil.
A quick look at the FFA, Roar and Ticketek web pages shows absolutely no promotion of the Asian Championship League games, or obvious information about ticket availability or prices.
Contrast this with the fact that through Ticketek right now, I can get myself a ticket to the Queensland Reds first home match of the season on 3 March 2012, or even a ticket to the 2012 State of Origin game at Suncorp Stadium on the 4th of July.
For all of Lyall Gorman and others waxing lyrical about the A-league teams participating in the ACL – is the FFA really maximising it’s opportunities from the ACL to promote football in the community? I don’t think so.
The We Are Football campaign was accompanied by excellent TV and other media promotion at the start of the year. As a football community we are unique, and one of the unique things about playing football in Australia compared to other codes is that we share a massive global participation in the sport.
Therefore when opportunities arise to showcase our talents in events such as the Asian Champions League, the FFA must lead the charge of the Australian football community and pull out all stops to promote and support such events.
The Australian football community expect the FFA to not only support the A-League clubs in their participation in the ACL through planning game schedules, but to be front and centre, coordinating and commanding the promotion of the ACL matches played in Australia.
The A-League has enjoyed excellent media coverage this season and I believe the promotion of football in the media has increased as a result. The first ACL match in Australia kicks off in less than 6 weeks time and presents the start of an excellent opportunity to promote and celebrate the success of the A-League.
However, the current absence of promotion, media and ticket availability is not good enough. The football community and the clubs involved in the tournament (both Australian and international) deserve much better. The FFA executive must stand up and get cracking to maximise this opportunity for Australian football.