Time to promote the A-League right

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A-League TV teaser ad - 'WE ARE FOOTBALL' (Image: FFA)

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This coming A-League season is the most significant for domestic Australian football ever. Yes, that’s right, even more important that the relaunch of the domestic competition almost 10 years ago.

For years I have seen administrators, clubs and supporters making crucial errors of judgment in various facets of the game and not learn from previous mistakes.

The 2012/13 season could very well make or break the A-League, and so we need to excel on and off the pitch. Today is a prime example of how wrong those who run the league have got it.

Announcing September 21st as ‘Del Piero Day’ is staggering. Yes, he is a great player and Sydney FC have pulled off one of the great sports signings in Australian history, but a league that promotes itself on an individual player just doesn’t feel right.

If the marketing came from the club I would fully understand, but it is just another example of how out of touch some of those who sit in the boardroom are from those who they want to sit in the terraces.

If I have learned one thing in my years of sports viewing it’s that clubs are far bigger than the individual, especially in football.

The A-League is a very transient league; one only has to look at the club career of Michael Beauchamp over the last few seasons – three clubs in three years and he isn’t a rarity in domestic football.

Promote the game first, followed by the club, and finally the individual.

Another head-scratcher was the decision to let outgoing CEO Ben Buckley negotiate the television rights for the league.

In my mind it’s a bit like letting your ex-wife redecorate your house before she moves out. Once you go through with the concept, the next person’s hands are tied.

The future direction should be decided by those coming into the role, especially when we are talking over such an extended time-frame.

One only has to look at the Etihad Stadium deal that Melbourne Victory have. Five times a year the club is forced to use an unsuitable venue whilst a purpose built 30,000 seater stadium sits across town empty.

The A-League must get this season right, they have gone above and beyond and created a fantastic 90-second promotion, the best one I have seen to date, but if you aren’t on social media you probably have not managed to see it yet.

Why 90 seconds? Why not stick to the traditional 30-second timeslot and run the promotion on free-to-air television? This may be happening but we are only two weeks out from season launch and I have seen zero promotion.

Yes, we are in the midst of AFL/NRL finals, but what are we going to do, run a few ads on the Tuesday afternoon before the season kicks off?

I believe we have finally got the right mix of 10 teams to give the game in this country the best possible chance of financial success. Apologies to North Queensland and Gold Coast but you are not ideal football markets.

From day one our two biggest cities Melbourne and Sydney should have been hosting crosstown derbies. I expect the six derbies to all be in the top 10 attendance records at the end of the season.

We know we are not the biggest sport in this country, therefore we have to grasp every opportunity and run with it.

Those who read this are probably football fans anyway and will attend games regardless of how the league is run, but remember to think smarter this season when introducing your mates to our great league.

Take them to a game that will evoke passion, entertain them for 90 minutes and bring them through the turnstiles once again. At the moment I believe those who run the game are failing the fans, and as fans we need to take charge and lead the way.

Don’t sit back and expect things to happen. For the sake of our sanity take charge, lead the way and make football in this country what is should be; great.

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