An interesting article written by The Roar columnist Janek Speight led to a spirited debate on this very website.
In the article he thought David Gallop should essentially stop crowing about football’s growing popularity in this country in contrast to the fortunes of the other codes of football.
He concluded that the A-League is firmly mainstream now and shouldn’t engage in petty code war antics less it reek of insecurity about their own product.
There is no doubt that football has been on an upward trajectory recently. It seemed to start its era of positivity when Clive Palmer left the game. The Wanderers, The FFA Cup, sell out big city derbys, foreign capital, record breaking memberships and international superstars, it almost boggles the mind to think this was the same competition media outlets were death riding no more than three seasons ago.
Can Gallop’s bullish assumptions about the game ever be realised? Can the world game finally conquer Australia and become our national game?
Many people around the world might find it strange that we have essentially four different types of football, each with its own proud history and traditions.
Could we ever get to the stage where filling out Allianz Stadium for a derby game is not a cause for celebration but rather an expectation? Will we see the media one day revel in the grand old history of Sydney FC the way it does with the Rabbitohs?
Could the Melbourne Victory match the financial might of Collingwood? Can the Wanderers become the biggest club in Asia? Will the game of football have first choice of all the fantastic athletes that participate in other codes leading to a strengthened Socceroos? Will the NRL or AFL one day look enviously at the strength of the A-League?
Football has always been ahead of the other codes in participation numbers. However, turning them into paying fans of a full-time professional league has always been a complex task.
For my part, I find David Gallop a confident media operator who knows how to work the almost fragmented (for use of a better term) Australian media market. Each major TV station and newspaper throws its lot behind either cricket, AFL or NRL.
Until football establishes a stronghold in the three major networks Gallop must continually cut through all the noise and promote football whenever he can.
I always wonder though whether the game will get to a stage where it won’t have to.