A-League crowds rising as momentum thrives in season eight

Robbie Di Fabio Roar Guru

By Robbie Di Fabio, Robbie Di Fabio is a Roar Guru

36 Have your say

    The 2012-13 A-League season has been a tremendous success on numerous fronts. The introduction of expansion outfit Western Sydney Wanderers has added much enthusiasm and excitement to the competition.

    The addition of three marquee stars has given the league a worldwide portfolio, while the football on the pitch continues to intensify from a tactical and technical perspective each year.

    Following the completion of the regular home and away campaign, the A-League is proud to reveal that is has set a new attendance record of 1,666,942 throughout the course of the season.

    The aggregate crowd-figure has surpassed the previous record in 2011-12 by over a whopping 250,000.

    The spike in attendances this season further illustrates the growing popularity of football around the nation, and specifically the A-League competition.

    More Australians are involved in football than ever before, with participation rates cultivating each year from the grassroots level, spiralling through to the support of the nation’s domestic competition.

    The 18 percent rise in overall attendances this season has been a feel-good story for the code, and only indicates an upward trend in years to come.

    FFA CEO David Gallop is delighted by the game’s development this season, and believes the A-League will only continue to grow and become a more sustainable competition in the near future.

    “This season more Australians have watched the A-League live in our venues than ever before,” Gallop said.

    “What they’ve experienced is the best standard of football our competition has ever seen and the best live atmosphere in Australian sport.

    “The growth is the end product of hard work and investment by 10 clubs. I thank the fans all over Australia for making this an unforgettable season.”

    Since the A-League expanded from its original eight-team format in the 2009-10 this season’s average attendance of 12,348 has hit a new record.

    To coincide with the spike in crowd attendances, there was an 18 percent rise in TV audiences, with just under 80,000 tuning in each game – a record since the A-League’s inception.

    For the first time, TV audiences also eclipsed 10 million for the season. It’s a fantastic achievement, and further validates the competition’s growing popularity.

    While gate-taking and TV audiences have been on the up, so has the use on digital platforms and social media.

    There has been a 40 percent increase in digital platforms, while a 105 per cent cumulative increase across all A-League channels on Facebook and Twitter.

    It’s a significant rise and once again demonstrates why football is the sleeping giant of Australian sport.

    “The A-League is not just on the move, it’s expanding massively in the mainstream of Australian society and capturing thousands of new fans live, on TV and in the digital space,” Gallop said.

    “Importantly, we are riding a demographic wave. We are a young, exciting and international sport. We represent the diversity of Australian society like no other.

    “Now we enter the new-look A-League Finals Series that will showcase all that’s great about the competition into an action packed three weeks of sudden death football.”

    As we enter the new-look finals format we reflect on what has thus far been a fantastic year for the A-League. While the figures are all encouraging, we must remember that the competition had a similar trend a few years back.

    In the 2007-08 season, the A-League set its highest average attendance of 14,610. The previous year, it was 12,297. While this season’s average gate-attendance was the third best on record, there is still much work to be done.

    After the record set in 2007-08, crowds dipped to under an average of 10,000 in 2009-10, and at its worst, a meagre average of 8,393 in the 2010-11 campaign.

    In the past two years, we have seen two expansion clubs – Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury – disbanded from the competition.

    Western Sydney has been an obvious success story off and on the pitch, although the same cannot be said about Melbourne Heart.

    Since its inclusion in the 2010-11 campaign, the red and whites have failed to make a significant imprint in the Melbourne sporting landscape.

    When dissecting the club’s average home attendances this season – excluding the Melbourne Derby and the visit of Alessandro Del Piero’s Sydney FC – their average was under 6,500. If we include those two fixtures, it was 8,484.

    In the heartland of Australian sport, those figures are simply unacceptable for any elite sporting franchise.

    Yes, results haven’t been great – finishing equal last on the table with cellar-dwellers Wellington Phoenix – but something must be done to get people through the turnstiles.

    Was it the right move to include a new team, with visibly no market differentiation, playing at the same stadium in direct competition with the A-League’s biggest and most successful club in Melbourne Victory?

    The jury is still out on this, however given the FFA’s decision to expand into Melbourne and with an impending TV deal coming in next season we can assume FFA will persist with the Heart.

    The addition of the Melbourne Derby has undoubtedly been an exceptional advertisement for the A-League in its past three seasons.

    The enmity between the clubs is evident, the atmosphere is electric, and the entertainment has been first-class.

    However, a club’s existence cannot primarily be to offer a cross-town rivalry, it must form its own identity and write its own story.

    It’s important that the competition continues on its current wave of momentum.

    In July, the A-League All Stars will lock horns with English powerhouse Manchester United in Sydney, while Melbourne Victory will entertain five-time European champions Liverpool at the MCG.

    The ambition to succeed is more evident than ever. Under the guidance of Gallop, football is heading in the right direction.

    Courtesy of Goal Weekly

    Follow Robbie on Twitter @RobertDiFabio

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    The Crowd Says (36)

    • April 5th 2013 @ 9:49am
      kylesy sky blues fan said | April 5th 2013 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      So many positives around the A-league. We’ve essentially built ourselves up to a thriving comp with little mainstream press support, no fta for a decade, initially poor sponsorship and unhelpful governments and rival codes to a brilliant competition! From a tv deal in which Fox didn’t want to pay $400k and show every game live, to a couple of million a season to $40 million a year with FTA IMO tells the story better than most facets. Prepare for a positive roller coaster after 3-4 bad years, football fans!

      • April 5th 2013 @ 11:24am
        Punter said | April 5th 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        I think this is a very good point kylesy, from where we came from!!!! Eight years ago Fox didn’t want to pay $400K to $40 million next year. This is the success, we need to look at. The crowds this year, the added mainstream attention, the marquee players, the fact big European clubs are playing our A-League players not our national sides.

        Sure if we compare to NRL TV ratings or AFL crowds or their TV deals we are a long way behind, but this is not what we should be focusing on, we should focus on where we were & how far we have come & how much further we can go.
        We have a thriving national competition, a int’l competition for our A-League clubs & then we have a various of world cups, olympics for a various national sides, both men & women.

        Great to be a football fan.

        • Roar Pro

          April 5th 2013 @ 1:04pm
          West said | April 5th 2013 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

          That’s just football in Australia.
          Its the World Game, really enjoyed the ECL matches last night on SBS.

          And which Aussie sport is number one for participation?

    • April 5th 2013 @ 11:31am
      j binnie said | April 5th 2013 @ 11:31am | ! Report

      Robbie – Don;t accept word for word what is being spouted about the huge increase in crowd figures this year. The “increase figure”of 252,135, is a tremendous jump on last season ,17.8% to be exact.
      However close analysis on the figures show that 80% of that increase can be directly attributed to 2 factors, the success of replacing GCU (last years average crowd 3,200) with WSW (this years average crowd 12,466). Differential for year 136,150
      The other factor appears to be at one club,Sydney FC (last year 11,838, this year 18,660) Diff. for year 76,850
      As you can see that total for those 2 factors is 213,000.ie 80% of the total growth.
      Now the questions to be asked,are we going to have another WSW/GCU situation next year,or for that matter another ADP effect, for, if not, we certainly won’t get an 18% increase next season,not based on this year’s figures anyway. jb

      • April 5th 2013 @ 1:41pm
        Anon said | April 5th 2013 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

        back in the early years there were bullish reports like this – in V2 the growth was almost wholely attributable to Victory moving fulltime to Docklands. In V3 to Wellington replacing Auckland.

        Is that bad growth? Not necessarily.

        However – expectations need to be measured – growth for specific measureable reasons compared to broadly across the board probably need to be regarded differently.

        • April 5th 2013 @ 2:38pm
          j binnie said | April 5th 2013 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

          Anon- Who mentioned this year’s growth being “bad” growth????.My figures for this year are not bullish,they are factual and I would think you have to admit have been strongly affected by the 2 factors I mention.Can the growth figure be maintained?. Are there things that could be done to help?Should some of the “new” money be spent in attracting some more world class drawcards? these are just a few questions that should be being asked now, not wait until next year and then lament the smaller growth figure.jb

      • April 5th 2013 @ 1:54pm
        Punter said | April 5th 2013 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

        JB, I agree with your sentiments in regards to the increased crowds were due to the 2 factors you mentioned, ADL & WSW/GCU. You have to admit both are pretty big pluses to the league. You also have to admit that this year, more than any other year, we appear closer to mainstream sport.

        Now, how to maintain this 18% increase & there are a lot of ifs, but surely you can see some possible improvements;

        Imagine if SFC actually had a successful season as oppose to the poor one.
        Melbourne Heart also got a marquee player, in the mold of ADP, now I know the likes of ADP don’t fall off trees.
        Perth Glory under Ali Edwards & new stadium can play some decent football & get the crowds back to the NSL days, even a marquee player.
        Adelaide sorts their internal issues & works with fans, would also possibility get a slight increase.
        I can only see WSW average crowd getting bigger.
        Lastly & hopefully the most effective, SBS, taking the A-League outside of pay TV, no doubt FFA took a smaller deal with an aim to get a bigger market. This is the unknown.

        I know this year more than most that football people at my local football club, friends, etc, who previously gave the A-league a wide berth, now actually seem interested in some ways ie results, going to odd match, watching on foxtel because of the higher profile of the competition, again down to ADP & WSW?

        • April 5th 2013 @ 5:08pm
          j binnie said | April 5th 2013 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

          Punter – No argument from me on all points you mention.re. how improvement could be attained.That is really my reason for pointing out how these great attendance figures have been achieved this year. I would hate to see everyone sitting on their thumbs waiting for a like improvement next year for, just to give you a clue,if we were to get 18% improvement next year based on this year’s figures, we would have to increase the total from 1,666,315 to get 1,966,522 through the gates & to achieve that EVERY team would have to attract an EXTRA 2,242 fans to EVERY home game they play. Not a easy task to accomplish unless there is some really intense work done. Agreed? Your mate jb

          • April 5th 2013 @ 6:56pm
            striker said | April 5th 2013 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

            J binnie all we need to do is move the derby games to bigger stadium like the sydney derby which would have got over 40k easily at anz stadium instead of parra stadium.

            • April 6th 2013 @ 1:29am
              j binnie said | April 6th 2013 @ 1:29am | ! Report

              striker- you do miss the point completely. Ok lets move the “derby games to bigger stadia next year,” Say an increase of 20.000. to each derby (WSW would have to agree to move from their “home ground”). We have 6 derbies x 20,000 = 120,000, yes striker,less than half of what the increase was this year. ie 252.000.ok? jb

          • April 7th 2013 @ 10:21am
            Punter said | April 7th 2013 @ 10:21am | ! Report

            Totally agree JB, alot of hard work for a lot of the clubs and FFA to maintain & increase their crowds next year. More sponsorship & TV money will help.

    • April 5th 2013 @ 11:34am
      AZ_RBB said | April 5th 2013 @ 11:34am | ! Report

      I can’t wait to see the impact Man United and Liverpool have when they visit over the winter break. But I fear that the interest will remain concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne with the rest of country stumbling along. Perth Glory is one team which disappoints me. After all its NSL success it has struggled to get crowds over 10 000 since joining the A League. Similarly the Mariners with all their success and attractive football struggle to attract large crowds. Just had a look at ticket sales for their semi final and tickets are moving very slowly.

      On the other hand I’m expecting another season of Wanderers fans whinging about a lack of merchandise and tickets to big games and memberships selling out.

    • April 5th 2013 @ 12:12pm
      nordster said | April 5th 2013 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

      Looking forward to WSW rubbing a little of that momentum and enthusiasm on to ACL football next year!

      • Roar Pro

        April 5th 2013 @ 12:37pm
        West said | April 5th 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

        I hope you are right.
        For some reason great A-League champion teams like MV and BR falter in the ACL.

    • Roar Pro

      April 5th 2013 @ 12:40pm
      West said | April 5th 2013 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      We are part of the source of the A-League’s success.
      Our continued support and passsion for our teams and good sporting behaviour at the grounds.
      Our continued participation in the discussions and forums.
      Keep following and watching the A-League and it will never die.

    • April 5th 2013 @ 1:00pm
      Nathan of Perth said | April 5th 2013 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

      Perth Glory could have done a lot better in attendances, even with that Australia Day debacle, but at least we did get a pair of nice fat crowds (14k v Brisbane, 17k v Adelaide). (And I have suspicions regarding Nick Tana’s counting but that’s a different matter). Of course, we could have done a lot better on field. Yet another false dawn, it seemed. Hopefully the new leaf is a real new dawn, and next year we can bring people back into the fold. The football community in Perth is vast and if we could harness even 10% of it, we’d be filling NIB comfortably.

      Having a new very appealing stand will help a lot. People won’t be forced into really crap viewing angles if they don’t want them. If we can keep going with the night games, that will also help.

      • April 5th 2013 @ 1:23pm
        Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | April 5th 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        The crowd figures at the two Del Piero visits were abit fishy,especially the first one.

      • April 5th 2013 @ 1:59pm
        Punter said | April 5th 2013 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

        Interesting views Nathan, would love to see Perth getting big decent crowds, hopefully the new stadium & a better style of play under Ali Edwards would do the trick.

        Interesting, being for Sydney, you mention the football community in Perth. Is it that big?