Why has this A-League season been so successful?

Cameron Kellett Roar Guru

By Cameron Kellett, Cameron Kellett is a Roar Guru

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    Alessandro Del Piero and the A-League All Stars put up a strong showing against Juventus. (AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD)

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    After six rounds of A-League action we have seen something for everyone in season eight.

    Fans have been provided with enthralling entertainment and the A-League with the perfect launch pad for increased exposure through the marquee signings of Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono.

    There is also a soon to be announced groundbreaking $35-40 million television deal, a vital signs football is now firmly entrenched in the Australian sporting landscape.

    So what has contributed to the booming success of the A-League for season eight thus far?

    Alessandro Del Piero
    What more can be said about this man?

    Not since Dwight Yorke has the A-League had so much hype. No disrespect to Yorke but Alessandro Del Piero is having a more influential impact on the popularity of the A-League.

    Statistically speaking, there is no need to look any further then the influence he has had on A-League attendances.

    Round 1: Wellington Phoenix had an attendance of 12,057 in poor conditions and so far it has remained their highest attendance for the season.

    Round 2: Alessandro Del Piero versus Emile Heskey (Sydney FC versus Newcastle Jets). This match attracted an A-League record attendance for a regular season match for Sydney FC with 35,419 in attendance. The match also attracted 156,000 in television ratings.

    Round 3: The first ever Sydney derby between Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC. Alessandro would be the decisive difference between the two teams, scoring his second goal for the season in front of a sold out Parramatta Stadium of 19,126.

    Round 4: Sydney FC versus Perth Glory – this was the first time in the history of Sydney FC that they achieved more than 20,000 in successive home matches. A total of 22,187 turned out to witness Sydney snatch this win towards the later stages of the match and Alessandro Del Piero got his third goal of the season.

    Round 5: Unfortunately due to injury Alessandro would not participate in the match against Central Coast Mariners. Prior to his ruling out, ticket sales were selling fast at Bluetongue Stadium.

    A total of 15,686 turned out to witness Central Coast Mariners win 7-2. Although not the complete performance from Sydney FC, his presence in the A-League was telling in the lead up.

    Round 6: The Big Blue, as it was billed, saw the return of Alessandro in front of another good crowd of 21,531. Sydney, although leading 2 nil with roughly 20 minutes left to play, would go on to lose this match 3-2 in what was an amazing comeback by the Victory.

    A better performance but one that will require improvement heading into the match against last year’s champs Brisbane Roar.

    A focus on quality and goals galore
    With 84 goals in 30 games at an average of 2.8 goals per match, who wouldn’t want to be watching the A-League. The quality of football has risen to next level with coaches and teams learning to adapt to one another’s playing styles.

    We are seeing a variety in team structures. Some are structured around a solid defence possessing the ability to make blistering runs down the wings with beautiful counter-attacking football and some have a possession based approach that involves running your team off the park or using your brute physicality and awareness to run players off the ball.

    Each team possesses unique ability and football philosophy to take them to either the Premiers plate or grand final success.

    The Big Three, overall attendances and viewing
    Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono were signed prior to the start of the A-League season and provided increased media exposure during the closing stages of the NRL and AFL seasons.

    Normally, when the A-League would sit idly by waiting for their time to shine, football stepped out of the shadows earlier than expected and week by week brought exciting news to all football followers.

    Due to the on and off field professionalism of these three players, ticket sales, memberships and television viewing audiences have fine-tuned their ability to listen, learn and live vicariously through the continual positive media exposure placed upon them to influence their participation, whether it be attending matches at the stadiums or watching via Fox Sports.

    The numbers look good for the A-League with average attendance rates for the season currently standing at 14,253 and an average viewing audience of 479,000 per round, touching a 96,000 average viewing audience per match.

    In the 2011-2012 season, the A-League finals consisted of the teams Brisbane Roar, Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne Heart, Perth Glory, Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix.

    Throughout the finals series a total of 652,000 fans tuned in at an average of 93,100 per match. 119,147 fans attended the seven matches at an average of 17,021, though taking out the expected sell out of any grand final would have brought the finals attendance to 68,813 at an average of 11,468.

    Only time will tell as to the influence the big three will have on the continual development, quality and progression of the A-League.

    However, with the television deal to be announced soon, after six rounds, the A-League at its finest ever. Things look bright for the future of football in Australia.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • November 15th 2012 @ 7:54am
      MV Dave said | November 15th 2012 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      Finally Football is getting its act together…2005 was revolution but now HAL is on an evolutionary pathway which should create the basis for HAL challenging as the best Football league in Asia. Still lots of work to do….
      Solidify the foundations for all 10 teams in HAL with the new TV deal underpinning this process (no more clubs folding)…
      All clubs developing Youth Academies with top class facilities ala CCM…
      The FFA providing some financial support for clubs taking on Marquee players of the calibre of ADP…
      Put in place a 100 year plan, ala J League, which will eventually see all HAL clubs have their own rectangular stadiums…
      Introduce an FFA cup ASAP…
      Continue the long term planning into a B League (even though l cannot see any P/R in my lifetime)…
      Begin the long term process of exploring HAL expansion which may take place over the next 5-10 years depending upon the next TV deal…
      For a code that receives minimal FTA exposure HAL does brilliantly and what a joy to be able to go to a stadium every week (2nd week) to be able to support my team/ the code.
      Onwards and upwards for HAL…

      • November 15th 2012 @ 8:16am
        Punter said | November 15th 2012 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        Well put MV Dave, I agree with your sentiments upwards & onwards, we are on the correct progession.
        Great article too Kellett, I think Del Piero has brought so much to the A-League this year that you could have stop there, but this year there is still so much more.

        How lucky are we football fans we are far away from the heartland of Football (Europe & Sth America) but we have now a thriving local competition that is only going to get better, a competent national side (considering it’s not the no 1 sport here) on the Int’l stages, we can watch the most popular league in the world live every week in the Premier League, plus all the best players in the world in the champions league. We have it all.

      • November 15th 2012 @ 8:35am
        Kasey said | November 15th 2012 @ 8:35am | ! Report

        Football IS finally getting its act together. You are completely correct in that the next 5-odd years will be Evolution after the Revolution of 2005. I and many proponents of the A-League have always felt that the basic concept of the HAL was the correct idea/path for the domestic game after the dim-dark era of the NSL.
        Of course the FFA didn’t get it 100% correct on launch. Even market giants like Apple don’t give birth to products free of errors, this why I never buy the very first iteration of a new Apple product. It is prudent to wait six months for the ‘improved version’ that has ironed out any bugs. This process of continual improvement continues as I type this. However with the addition of WSW no longaer there any gaping holes in the basic framework of the league.
        Interestingly I fell for AUFC and by extension the HAL straight away .In the intervening 8 years the FFA have slowly been making fewer mistakes and fixing the 1%-ers that have bothered football lovers. What the 7-8 years of football since 2005-06 has proven that there is a market (almost 9 million spectators since s1 – I havent counted the TV ratings, just the gates) out there for a strong domestic football league.

        It has also demonstrated the potential that exists in the game. If Fox Sports are willing to part with the sums they have been for a league that isn’t yet firing on all cylinders….I dream of the money available to the game and the riches of talent able to be retained/attracted by this money once the league gets to its evolutionary high point. I think the HAL should aim to at the very least be able to match the salaries on offer that are tempting ‘name’ players to MLS over the HAL. Gallop is correct when he said “ watch out other sports – Football finally is waking up”

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2012 @ 11:48am
        Cameron Kellett said | November 15th 2012 @ 11:48am | ! Report

        MV Dave, I completely agree, especially solifiying the current 10 A-League teams, doing this will create stability that future clubs can go off, I believe the Wanderers and the way they have been set up is a perfect blue print for future clubs.

        Eventually the departure of Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono will come, hopefully these three players send a good message to the rest of the world that playing in the A-League isn’t as easy as what others have made it out to be. Even Harry Kewell noticed this last season when he played for the Victory, saying that the A-League physicality and standard went well above his expectations.

        The FFA Cup would be good, though do you think this would replace the current Finals system? Would it affect the growth and popularity of the game or would FFA Cup create more exposure and excitement?

    • November 15th 2012 @ 9:08am
      striker said | November 15th 2012 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      This is the best season for sure the games are fanstastic to watch on TV and full of excitement colour and passion, alot of non-football people have also been watching and have enjoyed the games, bringing in del piero, heskey was by far the best move the league has donce since it started, also the up and coming stars Rogic,Behich and Co have been a pleasure to watch.

    • November 15th 2012 @ 9:43am
      Towser said | November 15th 2012 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      To put it in simplistic terms two things. One the quality of football has improved generally. What you pay at the gate now relates to the entertainment on the park,in other words value for money, you cant fool the customer.
      Until that was in place my opinion is that two, the introduction of a marquee was a waste of money. If Sydney dont get their act together soon, even now they’ll pay the price at the gate for cocking it up on the park, despite Del Piero.
      Every sport must maximise its market.All fans be they Euros,casual sports,A-league diehards whatever, are lured by the Del Piero’s,Heskey’s of World Football,general improved quality of football makes sure some return on a regular basis.
      Keep improving the football,keep bringing in the marquees & from that add a third aim to be the best Football League in Asia.
      I’ll also add a 4th never lose sight of why you can put butter on the bread nowadays instead of drippin,that is being a member of the AFC.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2012 @ 11:52am
        Cameron Kellett said | November 15th 2012 @ 11:52am | ! Report

        Towser, do you think ticket prices could still potentially decrease slightly to make it more affordable for families?
        Usually when a family goes, it is roughly 3 – 4 and children would be the ones to want to purchase food, jersey’s and if the experience is enjoyable perhaps another venture back in a week or two’s time.

        To be the best in Asia are you suggesting Australia to be the dominant force or A-League teams, or both? What would be the first step in increasing the exposure?

        • November 15th 2012 @ 12:52pm
          The Kebab Connoisseur said | November 15th 2012 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

          Ticket prices are good about the same as a cinema ticket which is what the going rate is for entertainment in Oz($10 bucks an hour). Ideally some of the stadiums should have smaller capacities. Parramatta is the ideal size at this stage of the League’s development. Melbourne’s two stadiums are too large. Even AAMI is too big.

          Adelaide and Perth(once built is ideal).

          Brisbane is way too big. I would relocate them to Ballymore and save on the rent. Does no good to the league to have empty seats.

          Newcastle is too big, Gosford is a bit too big.

          • November 15th 2012 @ 1:02pm
            Kasey said | November 15th 2012 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

            Only people that have never been to Brisbane put Ballymore>Lang Pk.

            Ballymore has no Public transit or parking.
            If the Roar wanted to improve their image, they’d be better off taking a leaf out of the Seattle SoundersFC (MLS) playbook and tarping off the top deck of seats. The reduced capacity puts Brisbanes stadium in the right size category IMO. This means anybody who wants to go to a game will be in the lower bowl. I have sat in a few different places in that stadium and I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the lower bowl, excepting the row or two immediately behind the lawn chair interchange zone. Thats one flexible and very cost effective way of addressing the supply and demand imbalance of playing out of a 52k stadium. It has the double benefit of being able to adjust the capacity for special event games like Grand Finalsas well as selling the space on the tarps to advertisers.

            • Roar Guru

              November 15th 2012 @ 1:58pm
              Cameron Kellett said | November 15th 2012 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

              There is no way Ballymore would even meet ground standards in any sense of the imagination. Suncorp stadium is a world class stadium that when the Roar have built a core supporter base, no matter where people sit it shouldn’t matter.

              Having them closer to the action is a good idea though done fans have preference as to where they like to sit.

              Only should teams, like glory of Adelaide look to acquire purpose built stadiums if and when the stadium they are in constantly sells out. In the mean time all clubs are at ideal home grounds that suit the a league.

            • November 15th 2012 @ 4:58pm
              jbinnie said | November 15th 2012 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

              Kasey The practice of “tarping off” the high decks appears to have spread in the US. I recently attended the Whitecaps v Sounders game in Vancouver and the “tarping “was as you suggest, certainly adding to the overall atmosphere from a 24,000 crowd in a 50,000 stadium.
              One slight problem. The Vancouver stadium has a roof, so that if a sudden change in weather occurs the crowd,down round the pitch,stays dry. In Brisbane this same set up would mean the crowd would get drenched,with no where to go that had a protective covering. Back to design problems???? Hope you are well jb

          • November 15th 2012 @ 4:26pm
            AVictory said | November 15th 2012 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

            AAMI Park is absolutely the perfect size for 1 particular club, and way too big for the other one.

            My general rule of thumb is that the Stadium capacity should be around double of the median crowd. With the chance of a sell out only happening a couple of times per year excluding finals

            Having stadiums half full are brilliant and they can really get rocking, with room to fit in more and grow.

            So e.g ideal capacities for the particular clubs.

            Melbourne Victory 30,000
            Sydney FC 25,000
            Brisbane Roar 25,000
            Newcastle Jets 22,000
            Western Sydney Wanderers 20,000
            Perth Glory 18,000
            Adelaide United 18,000
            Wellington Phoenix 16,000
            Central Coast Mariners 15,000
            Melbourne Heart 13,000

            Yet only 4 of those are playing in the right sized venues.

            • Roar Guru

              November 15th 2012 @ 8:53pm
              Cameron Kellett said | November 15th 2012 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

              AVictory, when you say the “Stadium capacity should be around double of the median crowd”, wouldnt this decrease potential for future development in the case of gaining more fans and membership increase?

              I 100% understand where you are coming from and for a short term would agree this is the best option, but with the current development in the A-League and a hope to grow continually wouldn’t this affect clubs long term?

              I don’t know if the A-League coudl ever stabilise to be like this but if it did wouldn’t it affect the game?

              From a business perspective it is good and teams like Liverpool, Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal seem to have got it right but it took a while and these teams are always looking at ways of developing their stadium even further.

              Is there any other alternative to ensuring the long term postive effects outweigh the short term positives? Cause as well all know teams are incurring large costs if fans don’t turn up, I.e – Heart, Perth and Wellington.

          • November 17th 2012 @ 12:54pm
            Andrew said | November 17th 2012 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

            Suncorp may have empty seats every week , but the roar arent struggling with the rent and it gets such a great atmoshphere. If you wanna say it is to big for the roar to play in. Sydney dont fill their stadium so maybe they should move. Melbourne never fill etihad to the top ? maybe should think again about saying move to ballymore ?

        • November 15th 2012 @ 4:29pm
          Towser said | November 15th 2012 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

          Kellet_1992
          To answer your questions. I believe the prices are fair at the Roar ,value for money as stated.
          I say that having attended 95% of all home matches over the 8 seasons & been through the seasons when it wasn’t.
          However I understand the struggle of families & how it would be difficult to attend the majority of matches. Not quite as bad as attending the August Show every fortnight or so,but expensive nonetheless over a season.
          Perhaps family packages could be cheaper,then maybe the seating areas for families could be expanded.
          Best in Asia, best Football League as stated. The National team being best or thereabouts follows on from that.
          Not sure about the expansion question,but if you mean exposure for the A-league a top class marquee is all you need IMO.
          If we(the Roar) had a marquee & the team & in particular the coach was settled,crowds would increase considerably on a regular basis.
          Examples of marquee impact at the Roar. Season 1 Dwight Yorke’s SFC 23,000.
          Season 5(the ticket price/ crap football season when crowds averaged 8,500) Robbie Fowler turned up at Suncorp playing for North Qld, a team no better than a BPL side & drew 11530.
          Hope thats what you were asking.

          • Roar Guru

            November 15th 2012 @ 9:00pm
            Cameron Kellett said | November 15th 2012 @ 9:00pm | ! Report

            Towser,

            I am not as educated on the costs that other clubs charge compared to Brisbane, but the best thing Brisbane have done is make a $50 memberhsip for children. Children are always going to be the future as a pattern will develop and the process will roll through.

            I have always followed the A-League and I can remember the ridiculous ticket prices they were charging at one stage. For me personally I believe ticket prices are ok, but to fill the stadium more, and because an extra 2-3 fans are brought in by a father or mother it would be great if ticket prices were made cheaper even if it meant saving prices on a normal ticket match of$20.

            Hopefully the impact will be witnessed even further with the arrival of ADP on friday night, if so then I hope each A-League team seriously considers the option of a highly regarded marquee, though in the Roar’s case I don’t know how they would go about doing this as Broich is currently their non Australian marquee.

            Hopefully things continue to look bright for the A-League.

    • November 15th 2012 @ 4:55pm
      Towser said | November 15th 2012 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

      Kellett_1992
      Above should read “Not sure about exposure question”

    • Roar Rookie

      November 15th 2012 @ 10:22pm
      ThomasHudson9 said | November 15th 2012 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

      It’s been a combination of big name signings such as ADP and Heskey, as well as Australia’s growing affinity with football in general. The a-league will continue to grow over the next decade as long as the quality of the game does also.

    • November 16th 2012 @ 8:48pm
      Boris the Mudcrab said | November 16th 2012 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

      I dont think the A League should get to far of itself.
      Last weekend only 1 game attracted over 10K and that was the big 2 attracting an acceptable 22k
      Interest is on the up with some great recruits, with even the NRL & AFL supporters showing interest. But facts dont lie and crowd figures suggest that if football played in winter, they would still rank behind the dominant 2 winter sports, Union and Cricket.
      Sign Beckham on a 2 year deal and the landscape may start to change a lot quicker for the sport

      • Roar Guru

        November 17th 2012 @ 12:27am
        Cameron Kellett said | November 17th 2012 @ 12:27am | ! Report

        The A-league is young, it is learning and most importantly still developing. things don’t happen overnight but if things like the influence of ADP continue to take affect like against Brisbane Roar tonight, 22,970, and the interest and power to attract other players like Beckham occur who knows where the a-league could end up.

        Wellington and heart are two real concerns though and hopefully they can gain the supporters to prevent things from looking so bleak.

      • November 17th 2012 @ 12:35am
        TC said | November 17th 2012 @ 12:35am | ! Report

        Boris
        it’s a case of baby steps.

        This season, the A-League is on the verge of reaching its previous high water mark of average attendances of 14,610, set in the 2007-08 season.

        If Del Piero can continue playing for a few more seasons, the A-League has a serious shot at reaching the NRL’s average attendances.

        If more big stars can be attracted to the A-League, the next step is to catch the VFL’s average attendances from 1921 (16,332).

        It’s one step at a time.

        TC

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