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Should football help the AFL in Western Sydney, and how?

David Gallop and FFA might now want South Melbourne in the comp. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Roar Pro
30th October, 2014
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1836 Reads

An interesting article written by Tony Tannous on the fate of two newly formed franchises in Western Sydney was fermenting debate yesterday on The Roar.

He surmises that its ironic that the AFL is asking football for help in promoting the Greater Western Sydney Giants given its disregard for the round ball game in Australia.

In the article there is a link to another piece written by journalist Sebastian Hassett containing some very bullish quotes from David Gallop on the absurd notion that the FFA would help the AFL in boosting the fortunes of the Giants. He cites the fact that both are competitors fighting for fans, players and corporate support.

Both the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Giants entered into the public arena around the same time. Both teams have had wildly contrasting fortunes. The Wanderers have won silverware and amassed a passionate and growing fan-base that fills Parramatta Stadium. The Giants have for most of their existence endured crushing defeats in front of anaemic home crowds.

Should the Wanderers help the Giants? Maybe the more important question is how?

Would they share the same ground? AFL can’t be played on a rectangular pitch and football never looks good at an oval ground. Why would the Wanderers leave the vibrancy and cacophony of noise at Pirtek Stadium for the soul crushing blandness of Spotless Stadium at Homebush?

Would they share memberships? Most football fans in Western Sydney are followers of rugby league teams like the Bulldogs, Panthers and Tigers. If getting a two-for-one deal they would rather get cheaper tickets to those teams.

Would they get mutual stars of both codes to promote each other’s game? This happens to a certain extent in rugby league with Russell Crowe’s Rabbitohs, who have a shirt sponsorship with V8 Supercars. If that’s the case why would football fans care what new Giants recruit Ryan Griffen has to say about a game he doesn’t play? What traction would the Giants get out of Tony Popovic attending a Giants game?

Gillon McLachan and the executives at AFL’s Melbourne headquarters need to re-think their strategy for the Giants. First they need to apologise for Kevin Sheedy’s ‘immigration department’ quote on why the Wanderers were achieving success.

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It did irreparable damage to the Giants brand and the Melbourne media who gave it scant attention and had no idea how badly it was received in Western Sydney.

Instead of trying to piggyback onto a successful team when still wrangling with football over stadium availability in Melbourne, they should try and be humble and listen to the community they are attempting to win over.