NRL left red-faced after embarrassing finals turnout

Adam Bagnall Roar Pro

By , Adam Bagnall is a Roar Pro

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    On Friday night a blockbuster AFL final between Geelong and Richmond attracted over 95,000 fans to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

    » The obvious solution to the NRL’s crowd woes: Get back to the ‘burbs!

    In reply, the Roosters-Broncos clash attracted just 21,000 fans, and things only got worse from there, with a mere 15,000 turning out for an all-Sydney clash between Penrith and Manly and just 22,000 attending the Storm-Eels game.

    A crowd of 15,000 is an absolute embarrassment for the NRL for the first week of finals, the so-called business end of the season, and it clearly shows that the current game is not attracting enough fans.

    Whether it be cost, scheduling or other factors, something must be done to avoid this farce of teams playing in half-empty stadiums.

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    Manly fans don’t travel, which is disappointing, while the Panthers have a limited supporter base – but surely both sets of fans could have put in a better effort to get to the game.

    The crowd on Friday night for Geelong and Richmond shows just how far ahead the AFL is. They have a great stadium in a convenient city location having abandoned ageing suburban grounds, and the crowds have been flocking through the gates for years.

    Earlier in the week the Crows were dudded with a Thursday night clash against interstate team Greater Western Sydney, yet they still pulled more than 52,000 fans. The Roosters could pull less than half that 24 hours later.

    The Swans hosted the Bombers with close to 50,000 fans in attendance – in Sydney – while the Power and Eagles attracted 41,000 fans to Adelaide Oval.

    In total more than 234,000 fans attended an AFL finals game this week, whereas the NRL could attract just 58,000 across three games, an average of fewer than 20,000 per game.

    Those fans who chose to stay home missed some great games, and you could argue that the NRL games have been as good as, or perhaps better than, the AFL clashes, but that still leaves the NRL with an unwanted headache heading into week two of the finals, with empty bays and a sprinkling of fans a bad look for the game.

    The Sharks and Cowboys do battle today, and if there are more than 20,000 fans there, it will be a modern-day miracle.

    I bet there were another 10,000 to 15,000 fans who were considering heading to Allianz to watch the Panthers and Eagles do battle, but due to a number of factors didn’t make the journey.

    The NRL has no sway over work commitments, family events et cetera, but the boffins in charge can make it much more attractive to attend the games, starting with ticket prices so cheap people will be pouring through the turnstiles.

    I’m thinking $10 for general admission tickets, and for a family of four the price should be around $30 as opposed to $171 that you would have to fork over for today’s game.

    Yes, for a game that is already going to be a hard sell, I went online and selected a family-of-four package, which category three in a non-alcohol area, and the total came to $65. That’s before you buy food and drinks for everyone, which will smash through the $100 barrier for a day out at the footy.

    This is supposed to be the working-class game, but find me a working-class family that can afford to spend $100 for a day out at the footy with power prices and rent through the roof these days.

    Your move, Mr Greenberg.

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