What is the A-League’s potential?

Nick Symonds Roar Rookie

By Nick Symonds, Nick Symonds is a Roar Rookie


119 Have your say

    The A-League is often compared to other leagues around the world but it isn’t as big as it can be.

    But before I go on I’d like to mention that this one’s a bit lengthy and full of detail so you might like to make a cup of coffee. It’ll take around 20 minutes to read through.

    Now I’ll continue…

    Rather than looking at where the A-League is at right now, I’d like to have a look at where it could get to eventually. The main metrics that I’ll use are population, average league attendance and league revenues compared to those of other nations.

    Population and League Attendances
    First of all, I’ll start with Australia’s population compared to those of European countries.

    Australia has a population of 25 million and this often comes up in discussions as a negative thing and is frequently used to argue against Australia having a second division.

    But how small are we really?

    How does Australia’s population compare to European countries?

    Well, let’s have a look at the list of nations in UEFA by population.

    The first group are the seven largest nations in UEFA. Of these only five are a serious threat being England, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

    Russia is the largest but they don’t perform well and Turkey which is third largest is in a similar position.

    1 Russia 144,031,000
    2 Germany 82,900,000
    3 Turkey 79, 817,849
    4 France 66,991,000
    5 Italy 60,589,445
    6 England 54,786,300
    7 Spain 46,423,065

    Ukraine and Poland are at eight and nine in terms of population but again aren’t much of a threat.

    8 Ukraine 42,850,000
    9 Poland 38,494,000

    Then this is where Australia would fit in as a European nation as the tenth largest but likely the sixth strongest among the top 10.

    Australia 25,000,000

    After this, you come to a group of seven nations made up of Romania and Kazakhstan who are both weak as well as Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, the Czech Republic and Portugal. Only The Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal are strong form this group.

    10 Romania 19,822,000
    11 Kazakhstan 17,543,000
    12 Netherlands 17,003,777
    13 Belgium 11,259,000
    14 Greece 10,769,000
    15 Czech Republic 10,535,000
    16 Portugal 10,311,000

    Then you come to another group made up of 12 nations with populations under ten million.

    Only five from this group being Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Slovakia are have quality teams.

    17 Sweden 9,858,794
    18 Hungary 9,835,000
    19 Aerbaijan 9,651,000
    20 Belarus 9,481,000
    21 Austria 8,608,000
    22 Switzerland 8,265,000
    23 Bulgaria 7,185,000
    24 Serbia 7,103,000
    25 Denmark 5,673,000
    26 Finland 5,475,000
    27 Slovakia 5,426,000
    28 Scotland 5,404,700

    The final group is made up of nations the size of Sydney or smaller while Estonia is just larger than Adelaide.

    Norway, Ireland, Croatia and Wales are okay but the rest are lacking. There are a few more nations after these but they aren’t worth mentioning apart from Iceland who beat England in Euro 2016 despite having a population of just 332,529.

    29 Norway 5,194,000
    30 Ireland 4,630,000
    31 Croatia 4,230,000
    32 Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,750,000
    33 Georgia 3,707,000
    34 Moldova 3,564,000
    35 Wales 3,063,456
    36 Armenia 3,010,000
    37 Lithuania 2,906,000
    38 Albania 2,887,000
    39 Macedonia 2,071,000
    40 Slovenia 2,065,000
    41 Lativa 1,979,000
    42 Kosovo 1,867,000
    43 Estonia 1,315,000

    Population Summary
    If Australia was part of UEFA we would be the 10th largest nation and likely be the sixth strongest from the top 10.

    The only nations to have any concern about would be England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, and Croatia. Australia would be in the top 12 European nations.

    Not bad.

    League Attendances
    Now let’s turn to average league attendances, but this time from across the world, not just European leagues. Since I’m looking at where we want the A-League to be I’ll only use top flights to do a comparison apart from the EFL Championship.

    The top two are Germany’s Bundesliga and the EPL who are the only two leagues larger than the AFL which would be third.

    Bundesliga 41,511
    Premier League 35,822
    AFL 33,188

    Then you have Mexico’s Liga MX and Spain’s La Liga. I’ve also included the BBL which would top both.

    Big Bash League 29,433
    Liga MX 27,800
    La Liga 27,700

    After that, there’s the Indian Super League and Chinese Super League which are in the worlds two largest countries by population.

    Indian Super League 26,376
    Chinese Super League 24,159

    When you come to the fourth group you find Serie A and the MLS followed by Argentina’s Primera División and Ligue 1 in France.

    You also have England’s second division, the EFL Championship.

    Serie A 22,164
    Major League Soccer 21,692
    Argentine Primera Division 21,374
    Ligue 1 21,029
    Football League Championship 20,119

    The fifth group which the A-League is part of is made up of 5 teams who all draw less than 20,000 per match, plus the NRL.

    Eredivisie 19,094
    J1 League 17,803
    NRL 16,063
    Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A 15,809
    A-League 2007-2008 14,610
    Scottish Premiership 13,998
    A-League 2016-2017 12,294

    League Attendance Summary
    Currently the A-League is the 15th highest attended top flight worldwide and if the A-League was in Europe we would have the 8th highest attendance which is pretty good.

    But although it’s good it’s not as good as it can be and there are a number things holding down numbers.

    The A-League’s average attendance is held back by clashes with other codes or events, hot weather in the middle of the day, late matches, lack of P/R and teams playing each other three times a season.

    There’s also the lack of fan ownership which is a major part of the Bundesliga’s success and likewise with safe standing.

    Also like the MLS experience Australia’s stadiums are too large and not football specific. If clubs start to build and own their own this could increase attendances by 50 per cent as they did in America.

    This would bring the average attendance to 21,915 based on the 2007-2008 season, just below Serie A.

    The A-League average is also skewed by teams like Melbourne City, Wellington Phoenix, Newcastle and Central Coast. Then you have Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth who are far from their full potential.

    Even Sydney FC draw poorly if you exclude the derbies and Western Sydney are playing on an oval. Melbourne Victory are the only team looking good at 22,008 but even that team is well down from it’s best average season attendance of 27,728.

    In the case of Brisbane Roar it’s also down to bad management putting off fans. I once saw a list of all the poor management decisions which went over two pages. Later I realized that if you put them together the list would literally be as long as your arm.

    Things are so bad at Brisbane Roar it might even be a good idea for FFA to pay for their stadium fees to give them a leg up.

    Roar captain Matthew Smith (centre) celebrates the teams minor Premiership following the Round 24 A-League match between the Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Saturday, March 22, 2014. (APP Image/Dave Hunt)

    (APP Image/Dave Hunt)

    I’d also like to see Brisbane Roar change their home uniform to maroon to reflect their Queensland status. While it might not be the same as State Of Origin they are seen to represent Queensland the same way that Sydney FC are seen to represent New South Wales and Melbourne Victory are seen to represent Victoria.

    The health of average attendances across the league is underwhelming but there are fixes to most problems. Match scheduling is the first thing that can be improved to avoid issues of heat, clashes with other codes or events and late finish times.

    Expansion of the league so you can have a regular home-and-away season is another big one. Provided that FFA’s budget stays the same each team will also have less of a burden to pay individually and the additional content will increase TV revenues.

    Poor management is a killer for a teams support and bringing in fan ownership like they have in the Bundesliga would help reduce the sense of disconnect and powerlessness. This should be an expansion requirement.

    Broadcasting the A-League on 7, 9 or 10 and they’re associated cross promotion will also improve attendances.

    Adding a national second division is an unknown for Australian sport but so was the idea of a national league. There are a number of ideas around how a second division can be achieved with The Pecking Order being a prominent one.

    Adding a national second division has a number of advantages. Firstly it brings together “New Football” with “Old Soccer” and brings back fans of those old clubs as well as bringing in people from new regions.

    Secondly, it increases the interest in matches at the lower end of the table with P/R battles.

    Thirdly it increases the talent pool by providing new pathways and by pitting the best players below the A-League against each other.

    Fourthly, there’s also the product differentiation from other codes and the sense that Australia will be a mature football nation which comes from having a fully connected pyramid between all tiers.

    But the big thing to increase attendances, of course, is to have football specific stadiums with safe standing areas owned by the clubs themselves.

    This is expensive to achieve which brings me to the final A-League comparison which is league revenues.

    League Revenues
    Australia compares well to other nations in terms of population and average attendance which itself can grow considerably but league revenue is the area where there is the greatest disparity.

    I’ll leave out the A-League from the figures below since overseas and streaming deals haven’t been finalized and the amount of money clubs will receive is still under dispute.

    The figures are arranged by revenue per club which I find more interesting and all figures are in Euros.

    The first group is made up of the EPL, Bundesliga and La Liga. Out of our range.

    Number of Teams Legue Revenue (Millions) Revenue Per Club
    English Premier League 20 4,865 243
    Bundesliga 18 3,240 180
    La Liga 20 2,437 121

    The second group all generate less than 100 million per club going from 96 down to 48 million.

    Number of Teams Legue Revenue (Millions) Revenue Per Club
    Serie A 20 1,917 96
    Ligue 1 20 1,485 74
    Russian Premier League 16 803 50
    Campeonato Brasileiro 20 958 48

    The third group sees a big gap in revenue per club from the last but they are all close to each other, ranging from 30.1 down to 26.6 million.

    I’ve included the combined revenue of both the AFL and NRL just to show how much money goes into them.

    Number of Teams Legue Revenue (Millions) Revenue Per Club
    EFL Championship 24 723 30.1
    AFL and NRL 583
    J1 18 532 30
    Super Lig 18 520 29
    Liga MX 18 509 28
    Major League Soccer 20 536 27
    Eredivisie 18 478 26.6

    The third group of just two leagues is made up of the CSL and the Swiss Super League. However the figures for the CSL are out of date.

    It’s also worth noting that in the Swiss Super League teams play each other four times for a 36 round, 180 match season.

    Number of Teams Legue Revenue (Millions) Revenue Per Club
    Chinese Super League 16 336 21
    Swiss Super League 10 206 20.9

    The fourth group is where the A-League clearly has the capacity to be a part of with the AFL and NRL included for reference.

    It’s also worth noting that the AFL is the only league in this group with 18 teams.

    Number of Teams Legue Revenue (Millions) Revenue Per Club
    AFL 18 342 19
    Belgian Pro League 16 303 18.9
    Primeira Liga 16 298 18.6
    Danish Superliga 12 203 16.9
    Austrian Football Bundesliga 10 161 16.1
    NRL 16 241 14
    Allsvenskan 16 166 13.8
    Scottish Premiership 12 149 12.4
    Ukrainian Premier League 16 158 11.2

    The following shows the number of matches per season depending on the number of teams:

    A-League = 135 matches or 12 teams X 33 rounds = 198 matches
    14 teams = 182 matches
    16 teams = 240 matches
    18 teams = 306 matches
    20 teams = 380 matches

    League Revenue Summary
    Increasing the league’s revenue is the biggest hurdle for the A-League to overcome but I don’t think it’s insurmountable.

    Although the AFL and NRL are large there are still big companies in Australia who could own or sponsor A-League teams with significant backing if they wish to do so.

    The top five largest companies in Australia are, BHP, Wesfarmers, Woolworths, Commonwealth Bank and NAB.

    Then you have a range of other significant companies going alphabetically such as AGL ENERGY, Amcor, AMP, Atlassian, ANZ, Boral, Brambles, Bank of Queensland, BlueScope, Cbus, CIMIC Group (formerly known as Leighton Holdings), Coca-Cola Amatil, CSR, Energex, Ergon Energy, Fairfax, Fortescue, Greater Bank, Grocon, Harvey Norman, Insurance Australia Group, Lend Lease, Macquarie, Meriton, Multiplex, Newcrest Mining, Officeworks, Optus, Orica, Origin Energy, Rio Tinto, Santos,Snowy Hydro, Suncorp, Telstra, Toll Group, Transurban, Westfield, Westpac, Woodside Petroleum, OZ Minerals and WorleyParsons.

    That’s quite a list. These are the companies that teams need to be targeting, not smaller companies like The Coffee Club and Webjet.

    Then you have global companies like Red Bull and Audi who either own or have paid large per centages of the cost of stadiums who could take interest in the A-League.

    Alex Brosque Sydney FC A-League Grand Final 2017

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Finding wealthy owners to bankroll teams is another issue for the A-League. Unfortunately wealthy owners often cause a lot of problems themselves as many fans of their victims can tell you.

    But maybe teams don’t need wealthy owners at all. Maybe TV revenue and sponsors could be enough by themselves and they could just increase or decrease their involvement as they see fit without running up debt on the clubs credit card.

    Tennis players and golfers don’t have billionaire owners so why should football teams? Fans should own teams as is the case in Germany, only in full. There’s nothing new about crowd funding.

    Or perhaps cities could buy teams themselves outright as has been suggested in America. This has also been suggested by Kevin Sheedy for Tasmania if they want an AFL team when he said that, “The only way they could ever get a team is if the state owned the team, much in the way the people of Wisconsin own the Green Bay Packers.”

    Ownership models aside the elephant in the room when it comes to revenue is the competition from the AFL and NRL which draw significant amounts of money from sponsors and broadcasters in Australia. But this doesn’t make it
    impossible for the A-League to increase it’s own revenue however.

    Unlike the other codes the A-League has the potential to attract large global audiences and TV deals. For example, the J.League announced a 10-year ONLINE streaming rights deal worth US$2billion with UK media content company Perform Group.

    Online rights are a big area for revenue in the future but one which hasn’t been fully taken advantage of.

    There could also be other big opportunities as well. The MLS have just rejected a US$400 million a year TV offer by MP and amp; Silva which would have quadrupled what they currently receive from FOX Sports.

    The deal was rejected because MP and amp; Silva demanded that the MLS put in place promotion-relegation. If we brought in P/R here in Australia and MP and amp; Silva were interested in a league with real potential for growth then maybe they could put their money into the A-League instead.

    There is real potential for growth in the A-League for anyone who’s interested.

    In particular, the A-League could attract a large overseas audience if billionaire owners are ditched and clubs have to live off TV rights money and sponsorship deals. This could give the A-League cult status among anybody who has ever had a grievance with the owners of their own club, either here or abroad.

    100 percent fan ownership!

    Final Conclusion – What is the A-League’s Potential?
    Looking at population, average attendances and league revenue I think the A-League has strong potential but has significant room for improvement.

    With our population we would be the 10th largest nation in Europe and one of their top teams.

    When it comes to average league attendance the A-League is the 15th highest attended top flight worldwide and if the A-League was in Europe we would have the 8th highest. There’s a lot of room for growth and potentially
    the A-League could have average crowds of around 25,000 people per match.

    League revenue is the biggest hurdle to overcome and is the biggest question over the A-League’s future. But I think that it should attract TV revenues at least as much as the NRL domestically and as much as or more than the J.League overseas.

    The current NRL deal is worth AUD$360 million a year while the J.League online streaming deal is worth AUD$250 million a year. I think the A-League can match both of these figures.

    $360 million a year from domestic TV rights would be enough to give 18 A-League teams $10 million each per year and provide $36 million a year to FFA. It would also be enough for two more divisions of 18 teams with second division sides getting $6 million a year and third division sides getting $2 million a year.

    $250 million a year from overseas over ten years could provide enough revenue for 18 football specific stadiums at $100 million each and a further 18 for every second division side at $38 million each.

    Sydney FC fans Football A-League Grand Final 2017

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Alternatively the MP and amp; Silva bid for MLS rights would be worth about half a billion a year and could stretch even further. Then there’s Google to think about with online streaming.

    While the AFL and NRL receive huge government handouts from taxpayers I think the A-League should set the bar high and pay for all it’s own stadiums. I’m sure that would win over a large number of fans from the public.

    With all of the above in mind I think the A-League should aim to be on a par with leagues such as the MLS, J-League and the EFL Championship. I think that’s achievable.

    With investment all of this is possible but it seems the only people who can see it are those from overseas, not those in government or at Australian TV networks. But if they can see the potential for growth then I’m sure they would be willing to open their wallets if the opportunity arose.

    All FFA need to do is make a wish list and a budget for all the things that the A-League needs to grow and have an open tender process for potential broadcasters and online distributors willing to invest. Then just wait and see who bites.

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    The Crowd Says (119)

    • August 1st 2017 @ 7:23am
      League table speaks said | August 1st 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      Australia has amazing potential with its grassroots base. Something a lot of countries would love to have.

      Yet it remains disconnected from the top flight with zero opportunity to play their way up the tiers via a promotion pathway. Squandered riches….

      Time for FIFA’s actions to match their words. Promotion and relegation is “normalisation” to Football culture. A right not a privilege. Tap into this great potential for the good of the Game.

    • August 1st 2017 @ 7:55am
      Fadida said | August 1st 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Wow. War and Peace 🙂

      Well done for giving it a crack. A few questions;

      – suggestions on how to beat the heat in summer but not have late finishing times, which you also list as an issue?

      – you’ve listed issues with revenue, but you’ve also said clubs should build their own. How?

    • August 1st 2017 @ 8:03am
      Agent11 said | August 1st 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

      There’s an interesting analysis in there, not sure about some of the suggestions though, but well done!

    • Roar Guru

      August 1st 2017 @ 8:51am
      Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      An excellent analysis by the author, showing that three fully professional national divisions is well within reach of football in this country.

      If we can match the NRL’s TV revenue of $360 million per annum, which is already within sight, we would have the funds to finance three national divisions containing 18, 16 and 14 teams respectively. That’s 48 fully professional clubs!

      In the top division alone, we would be in a position to triple current club revenues overnight.

      On top of that, NRL average attendances of nearly 16k are also within reach of the A-League, and would put us amongst the top leagues in the world.

      We shold rightfully be aiming to achieve that.

      FIFA intervention will be the first step in the re-building process.

      • August 1st 2017 @ 8:55am
        Fadida said | August 1st 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        3 tiers? There is little evidence to support the survival of a second

        • Roar Guru

          August 1st 2017 @ 9:01am
          Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          AS the author says, it’s all about potential revenue. There is little doubt that the potential revenue and investment the game can attract in Australia is huge, far greater than any of us could ever imagine.

          You only need to look at the 15+ bids which currently exist to enter the A-League, one of which brings with it the promise of $300 million in Chinese investment in infrastructure.

          • August 1st 2017 @ 10:11am
            Matt Jones said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            You like it because it suits your agenda

            • Roar Guru

              August 1st 2017 @ 10:29am
              Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

              Naturally all football fans are excited by the prospect of growing the game. The $300 miillion in
              Chinese investment is now on the public record. No other sport in Australia can attract that sort of money for one club. This is the strength of football (and most poignantly, the face of that bid was none other than the now late Mr Football).

              • August 1st 2017 @ 11:40am
                matt jones said | August 1st 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

                the 300 million is a property investment

              • Roar Guru

                August 1st 2017 @ 1:52pm
                Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

                but crucially it is for a football specific stadium, regardless of the additional benefits the investor is seeking, they could have chosen any number of other sports to do the same thing, but they are choosing to invest in football

            • August 1st 2017 @ 10:58am
              Chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              And you dont like it because it doesnt suit your agenda

              • August 1st 2017 @ 11:40am
                matt jones said | August 1st 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

                i dont like it because ts a ramble of useless stats

      • August 1st 2017 @ 9:34am
        League table speaks said | August 1st 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        Fully professional sets the bar too high for lower tier football.

        Let individual clubs find their own transition up the tiers from semi professional to how ever much “fully professional” each one can sustain.

        • Roar Guru

          August 1st 2017 @ 10:32am
          Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

          You are probably right, especially when you consider that some of those 3rd division clubs will be getting promotion straight out of the NPL, so naturally, they are likely to be only semi-professional.

          But once you start getting a lot of movement between the 2nd and 3rd division, over time, a larger precentage of those 3rd division clubs will be fully professional, a low salary base, but still fully professional.

          At a minimum, from inception, all 3rd division clubs will be striving to be fully professional as quickly as possible.

          Within a decade we’d have a situation where the average first division salary is around $400,000, the averate 2nd division salary is around $200,000 and the average 3rd division salary around $100,000 (in today’s dollars), that’s wroth striving for.

          • August 1st 2017 @ 10:55am
            League table speaks said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

            That sounds optimistic for a decade. A distinct third tier is also unlikely. The NPL would serve that role.

            • August 1st 2017 @ 12:38pm
              R King said | August 1st 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

              I think it is very achievable. First and foremost set the bar HIGH – so yes 3 divisions of professional clubs, don’t whimp out now League table.

              A good read and he makes a lot of sense.

              “Build it and they will come”.

      • August 1st 2017 @ 9:55am
        northerner said | August 1st 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        I don’t quite see how matching the NRL’s annual TV revenue of $360 million is “already within sight.” Foxtel is paying a fraction of that, and the FTA revenue is a pittance. And the former at least is etched in stone for six years. Viewership would have to increase by a massive amount for the A League to generate anything close to the revenue the NRL gets.

        • Roar Guru

          August 1st 2017 @ 10:21am
          Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

          As the article says, the J-League has just signed a 10 year $2 billion streaming rights deal with a UK company. Why can’t the A-League do the same?

          Add to that the number of games which we would be playing with an 18 team league, and you start to see immediately why it’s already in sight.

          Also, the author makes the key point that we need to stop courting 2 bob sponsors like the coffee club, and go after multinationals with deep pockets, then we’ll start seeing some real revenue.

          Only a week ago, it was announced that the Adelaide AFL women’s team had signed a sponsorship deal with BHP worth $1 million. If an AFL women’s team can attract that sort of sponsorship, then surely an A-League team should be signing sponsors like BHP for $5 mill to $10 mill.

          • August 1st 2017 @ 10:46am
            Nemesis said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

            There is no way BHP is paying $1m per year to sponsor the Adelaide women’s team for 7 matches. If this is true, then the Adelaide’s women’s team is more valuable to sponsors than any of the men’s AFL teams.

            • August 1st 2017 @ 12:41pm
              R King said | August 1st 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

              Nem, it has been widely reported as ‘fact’. So you make be right, they are a valuable sporting asset.

              • Roar Guru

                August 1st 2017 @ 1:50pm
                Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                The crucial point is that the A-League clubs are even more valuable, by many factors.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 2:41pm
                Casper said | August 1st 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

                What factors? The Adelaide AFLW team would be more popular than Adelaide United.

              • Roar Guru

                August 1st 2017 @ 2:52pm
                Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

                Casper, for starters, an A-League license is valuable and there are many suitors for licenses, secondly, there is a lot of interest in the A-League overseas which is unmatched in any other sport

              • August 1st 2017 @ 3:08pm
                Casper said | August 1st 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

                Grob – there are 8 clubs desperate to get aboard the AFLW train. Maybe the A League has some suitors as well but I think you are overrating the interest in the A League overseas.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 2:55pm
                Nemesis said | August 1st 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

                “The Adelaide AFLW team would be more popular than Adelaide United.”

                Oh my gosh.
                Are people really this business illiterate?
                Do you understand business valuation?

                Why do people who are completely & utterly ignorant about a topic continue to disrupt Football discussions?

                It’s bizarre, immature, pathetic behaviour that is indicates extremely lonely & socially dysfunctional people.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 3:16pm
                Nemesis said | August 1st 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                “there are 8 clubs desperate to get aboard the AFLW train”

                They play 7 matches & are so confident about their product they charge $0 to watch.

                Even semi-pro Football clubs can charge a tenner & people will watch them play.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 4:17pm
                Casper said | August 1st 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

                Nemesis- for a guy that likes to portray himself as some sort of high powered businessman, you sure do lack vision.

                Anyway, I’m still happy about what happened yesterday, so you won’t bring me down.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 3:20pm
                Chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                Casper I’m happy for you to think that AWFL Adelaide is worth more than AUFC. Why dont you start a discussion board on it on the AFL tab? I’m sure you will get lots of likes and back slapping from your mates over there.
                Frankly noone on here gives a toss about AFL etc and how great you think it is

              • August 1st 2017 @ 3:39pm
                Casper said | August 1st 2017 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

                Chris – I didnt bring the AFLW up, just responding to Grobbelar. Don’t know whether they are worth more than AU, but they are more popular. I guess BHP must be thinking they are doing alright.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 4:06pm
                Chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

                Casper – oh ok then np. Good luck to the Adelaide womens afl team.

        • August 1st 2017 @ 10:22am
          Chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          Yes there is a huge difference between 360mill and 60mill.
          I think the point the author is trying to make is that football has the potential to quickly close that gap.
          But you don’t care too much for football so no need to concern yourself .

          • Roar Guru

            August 1st 2017 @ 10:26am
            Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

            Correct Chris, that’s precisely what the author is saying, and what’s more, it is entirely doable. People need to stop fixating on the Fox deal and understand that there is massive upside with increasing the number of clubs to 18 and selling rights to matches overseas, which to date, has not been full explored.

            There is a potential source of revenue there that other sports can only dream about.

            • August 1st 2017 @ 10:36am
              Chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

              Grobbelaar the other big advantage the A-League has is that commentary is in English and that opens up huge markets overseas. Like the MLS, the growth will be exponential over the next 10 years if we position ourselves with the right product etc.
              FTA is going broke so the money lies with streaming and broadcasters that have a global reach. With this comes the need for content and the A-League will provide that.
              The product will only improve as the funds flow in.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 11:41am
                matt jones said | August 1st 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

                you guys are great at agreeing with your no facts opinions

              • August 1st 2017 @ 2:42pm
                Fadida said | August 1st 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

                They certainly are Matt

          • August 1st 2017 @ 10:59am
            northerner said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

            Saying that something is within reach doesn’t make it true. I’m asking, how do you expect to bridge the gap from 60 to 300 million at a time when many major sports networks are cutting back on what they’re willing to pay for TV rights? And when the deal with Foxtel is locked in stone for another five years.

            You can’t use the J League deal as a benchmark: that was, as I understand it, a $2 billion deal to replace ordinary TV coverage with live streaming within/within Japan after the previous TV deal had expired. It also allows the telco to stream to other Asian markets. But the point is that Fox already has the rights to domestic distribution here so there’s no comparable deal possible until that expires. Overseas rights, maybe, but the size of the Japanese deal rests to a large extent on domestic consumption, and Japan obviously has a much bigger domestic market than Australia does. I just don’t see that deal as applicable to the Australian situation.

            Sponsorships are a different matter, and there should be potential there. I’m just uncomfortable with the assumption that there will be rivers of gold flowing from broadcast revenues in the immediate future, and I wouldn’t want to base forward planning on that assumption without a bit more evidence to support it.

            • August 1st 2017 @ 11:06am
              Chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

              Like I said earlier Northerner – there is no need to concern yourself with any of this.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 11:56am
                northerner said | August 1st 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

                Chris – I find it quite interesting that you haven’t actually been able to address my point on factual grounds, but only on the grounds that I don’t “care” enough to have a right to comment. Unfortunately for you, this is not a private club with secret rituals and handshakes required to gain admission. I have every right to put in comments, express concerns, raise issues, and I will continue to do so.

                Incidentally, if you’re going to use the MLS as a barometer, their current broadcast deal is worth around $90 million a year. The one they rejected, which wouldn’t have been in place until 2023 in any case, would have been worth $200 million a year. Bear in mind that the American population base is around 400 million, compared with Australia’s 25 million. So I say again, if the MLS can’t get close to NRL broadcast revenue figures, on what grounds do you think the A League is within reach of them?

                Oh, and by the way, I care enough about football to want it to succeed in this country – and that means a bit of hard-headed realism is required. You cannot base an expansion plan on hoping that somewhere, somehow, the money needed to support it will appear. You have to have a pretty good idea of where its going to come from and how much it will be.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 1:37pm
                Chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

                Whether the stats that the author has put together are valid, meaningful, relevant or a rambling mess is not what I’m focusing on.
                The potential is there for the A-League/Football to grow exponentially in this country like no other sport can.
                The sheer size of the global market dictates that.
                Then you get people like yourself who only see reasons why it can’t grow, with the token “I actually want football to succeed” statements and why I take what you have to say with less than a grain of salt.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 10:40pm
                Matt Jones said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

                So we can’t argue the validity and accuracy of the writing ? Just keep the PR machine rolling

              • Roar Guru

                August 1st 2017 @ 1:53pm
                Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

                also the various metrics suggest huge potential because the potential IS huge, silly for anyone to argue otherwise

              • August 1st 2017 @ 2:14pm
                northerner said | August 1st 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                As far as I’m concerned, you’re the one making token statements.

                “The potential is there for the A-League/Football to grow exponentially in this country like no other sport can. The sheer size of the global market dictates that.” That’s a platitude, not a business plan.

                Once again I challenge you to show in concrete terms how you expect the A League to convert “potential” into substance over the next few years. Just being part of the “world game” isn’t the answer, or MLS would be getting billions for its broadcasting rights, and it obviously is not. There’s a lot more to it than that: rivers of gold are not going to flow just because the A League needs them.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 2:14pm
                Nemesis said | August 1st 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                “Then you get people like yourself who only see reasons why it can’t grow, with the token “I actually want football to succeed” statements”

                Perfect observation, Chris.

                It’s easy to spot the posers who come to Football discussions only with negativity in their opinions.

                They don’t watch ALeague but pretend they want ALeague to succeed.

                They’re easy to spot &, as I have a deep interest in the success of the ALeague, I have zero interest in the comments from those posers. Just as any business owner only listens to people who understand the business & ignores the negativity from those who’ve got no idea.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 2:20pm
                Nemesis said | August 1st 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report


                This article is about the ALeague’s potential.

                We watch ALeague & we think there’s potential.

                You don’t watch ALeague and you think ALeague won’t grow.

                Fine. You’ve made your point. Nothing more for you to offer, other than to reject every comment that is positive on this topic.

                Why do you bother? Have you nothing in your life that makes you happy & you enjoy planning for future growth?

              • August 1st 2017 @ 3:28pm
                Chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                Northerner nothing I say or show to you will convince you that the A-League has huge growth potential.
                But frankly I dont really care in your opinion. I respect the opinion of people who care about football, attend A-League matches and have a genuine love for the game. I’m not here to justify to people like you whether I think the game will grow in this country or whether it will not.
                The only thing that will prove whether it will is time. No modelling or expert predictions will confirm or negate that the A-League/Football in Aus will grow.
                But I will continue to play the game, coach players and attend A-League and grass roots matches and enjoy the ride.
                You on the other hand will keep coming to the football tab and bore us with your “prove it that it will grow” and other useless comments that serve no purpose on this forum.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 8:11pm
                northerner said | August 1st 2017 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

                Chris/Nemesis – here’s the deal, gentlemen. Contrary to your beliefs, football is not your personal preserve. It’s the world game, and that means that you share it with people like me who enjoy the game but also are interested in how it can be realistically structured for further growth in a difficult domestic environment.

                The two of you don’t get to decide who is or is not qualified to comment on football – you get to argue the points people might make, but that’s it. Most adults understand that mature discussion will involve differences of opinion and viewpoint, and they also understand that just such discussion and disagreement is both healthy and essential to progress. That neither of you can countenance anyone with a divergent viewpoint is an interesting reflection on your lack of security.

                Now, get this: I did not come here to attack the A League, and in fact haven’t done so. I don’t question that the A League has considerable potential for growth. I am merely asking questions about how it’s going to happen, because this particular article doesn’t explain it at all. Neither do comments like the space-cadet one about broadcast revenues. And neither of you can explain exactly how vague statements about global exposure relate to increased revenue sufficient to support a 2 or 3 tier professional league system. I’m simply asking you to make a case. Nothing more. That you take this as an attack on football is, quite frankly, pathetic.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 8:16pm
                chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 8:16pm | ! Report

                Somebody wake me up when northerner writes something positive about the A-League.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 9:33pm
                Nemesis said | August 1st 2017 @ 9:33pm | ! Report


                I’ll take your comment & throw it right back in your face.

                I’m not here to justify to people like you how it’s going to happen, because you are not the sort of person I would ever discuss football with in real life, so I’m not going to do it in virtual life.

                I’m only interested in discussing Aleague with people who have involvement with the ALeague.

                If you can’t understand how ALeague is going to grow bigger, it’s of no consequence. You are not, & I hope you never will be, part of the ALeague community.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 9:47pm
                chris said | August 1st 2017 @ 9:47pm | ! Report

                Its funny how people like northerner want proof and justification of any positive figures put in front of them regarding the A-League. When NASA, the World Health Organisation and eminent scientists etc state that global warming is real and is caused by humans I dont ask some amateur on a blog to prove that global warming is actually happening.
                If a chinese investment company is willing to put up 300million in an A-League expansion team, and is headed by the late Les M and Craig Foster I will take their analysis that there is serious expansion potential.
                But for people like northerner, he needs further “proof” from people like me on a blog.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 10:42pm
                Matt Jones said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:42pm | ! Report

                But they aren’t putting 390 mill into a team
                You choose to hear what you want to believe

              • August 1st 2017 @ 9:57pm
                Nemesis said | August 1st 2017 @ 9:57pm | ! Report

                And, northerner never ever questions blue-sky thinking on AFL topics.

                Never holds them to account when they’re discussing the nonsense about AFL spreading into China, South Africa, Europe and trying to promote the AFL World Cup.

                But, no sceptism from northerner. Just laps it up like a good little puppy.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 10:43pm
                Matt Jones said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

                Do you follow him on AFL threads? You choose to believe what suits you and in no way gave discussed the article or its content

              • August 2nd 2017 @ 7:45am
                Chris said | August 2nd 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

                Matt I’ve actually spoken to one of the people involved in the consortium and yes they are putting up 300mill to get the thing running. Who have you spoken to?

              • August 2nd 2017 @ 9:14am
                punter said | August 2nd 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report


                I’ll give a go.

                The 2 strengths the A-league has over the AFL/NRL are our participation rates & a huge int’l presence.

                Yes, we have always had that. Let me explain, when I grew up as a young lad in this country, my love was football, yes we had huge participation rates back then but everyone played ‘soccer’ & followed Aussie rules & Rugby League. I did too, St George was my team, I knew all the players, but I also knew the football players from overseas, they were my true idols, Platini, Zico, Maradona, Glenn Hoddle, when I would say Maradona was the best footballer in the world, I would get, ‘it’s soccer’ or many far more crude comments that I’m unable to mention on this platform.
                I never followed an Australian club, but followed the Australian players, the Socceroos, both locally & more so abroad. In a way I was shy to be called a ‘soccer’ fan for fear of retribution at times. Since the advent of the A-league, this all changed, I hardly know more then a handful of St George players, but can debate endlessly the Sydney FC or Socceroos lineup with the best.

                Now fast forward to today, again huge participation rates, Foxtel, Internet podcast, live streaming, FiFA (pick year), football shirts, all there, far easier today to be a football fan these days, kids are proud of it. The A-League, we have a national competition, though, nowhere the size of NRL or especially AFL, but still it’s mainstream. You now hear kids say, ‘Ronaldo is best footballer in the world’, the reply is ‘no he isn’t it’s Messi’, or Neymar & the EPL watchers, Hazzard. These kids are also brought up with the A-League, I see far more kids in SFC or WSW merchandise then local football gear when I was plaing. You hear kids calling it football & less so the reply, ‘no it’s soccer’ these days.
                Yes, these are events, but it’s the kids driving it, but you see huge crowds at the Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Brazil, Argentinar, it’s happening every year, so the thirst for football is there. The A-League is there, it’s not the best in the world, but it’s ours. These young kids will follow the Socceroos & remember some of them started in the A-League or are still in the A-League.
                As these kids grow up, the A-League & football, would be as big as part of their lives as NRL or AFL, these kids will become people in the media or our politicians, but they won’t have the baggage of our current media people or politicians who only come from a NRL or AFL background & have this innate….. well I won’t go into that.

                This is where change will occur Northerner. The A-League will convert a lot more of that participation rate & the media will highlight both positive & the negative issues in the game not just the negative as now. The politicians will spread our hard earned tax money more evenly, if spending on sport.

              • August 2nd 2017 @ 1:47pm
                northerner said | August 2nd 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

                Punter – thanks for the adult contribution. I agree absolutely that the participation rate is where the potential to expand the game lies. Up to now, the A League hasn’t done a great job of converting that into actual spectators and viewers but I expect better marketing and time will address that to some extent. It’s not going to happen overnight, though, and neither are these imaginary gigantic broadcast deals that the whole edifice of expansion seems to be based on. That’s where I see an issue. And that’s really all my point ever was.

            • August 2nd 2017 @ 1:59pm
              northerner said | August 2nd 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

              Nemesis: if you didn’t understand that those articles on the AFL were satire (bad satire – the boy needs to work on his delivery) then I can’t help you. Interesting, though, that you accuse me of a lack of scepticism over a satirical article on AFL expansion, while you’ve accepted, holus bolus, arguments in an article on football expansion by the same author.

              You’re really not all that good at this, are you?

      • August 1st 2017 @ 10:05am
        mattq said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        how is the NRL’s TV revenue already in sight? We’ve just locked into less than 100m per year for the next 6 years….

      • August 1st 2017 @ 1:07pm
        clipper said | August 1st 2017 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        The NRL attendance is definitely within reach – especially once the Parramatta stadium is completed – don’t know about TV revenue, that might be some way off.

    • August 1st 2017 @ 9:34am
      Christo the Daddyo said | August 1st 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

      Lots of impressive stats…

      But isn’t the fundamental problem the A-League faces is the fact that it operates in an unusual (by world standards) competitive environment? Take Sydney as an example – you’ve got multiple NRL teams, two AFL teams and a Super Rugby team competing for the football interest. Throw in a couple of Big Bash teams in direct season competition just to make it even harder!

      And the old chestnut about building football specific stadiums (“I think the A-League should set the bar high and pay for all it’s own stadiums”)? That would be lovely, but yet again, no suggestion about where the money is coming from to actually do it.

      • August 1st 2017 @ 9:55am
        Nemesis said | August 1st 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

        Ok. Let’s take the Sydney market.

        How many people do you think follow both NRL & AFL passionately?

        There are 8 NRL matches played every weekend; 9 AFL matches.

        Are you seriously suggesting NRL fans are saying to themselves: maybe I’ll watch AFL tonight instead of NRL? Who does that?

        If you think AFL fans in Melbourne are tossing up whether they should watch NRL or Super Rugb instead of 2 AFL teams, you’re kidding.

        The ALeague needs to win over football fans who don’t watch ALeague. That’s it. These people like the product (Football), but they don’t like our brand (ALeague).

        NRL, AFL, BBL are not different brands of football they are all different products. For sure, some people may want to buy multiple products. The TV ratings in 5 capital cities tells us very few people actually watch both AFL & NRL.

        • August 1st 2017 @ 10:09am
          mattq said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

          agree 100%. The only competition those codes provide is for sponsors. Fans will watch their preferred code. There’s no one not watching the A-League because they are choosing to watch NRL/AFL in stead. People watching these codes don’t like the A-League.

          • August 1st 2017 @ 10:20am
            Lionheart said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:20am | ! Report

            but A League matches rarely clash with NRL and AFL. The seasons are different. What do you mean, ‘There’s no one not watching the A-League because they are choosing to watch NRL/AFL in stead’?

            • Roar Guru

              August 1st 2017 @ 10:24am
              Grobbelaar said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

              I think mattq is saying that just looking at the amount of people who are NOT watching NRL/AFL, there are sufficient people remaining who would be interested in the A-League, and attracting just a fraction of such people would make us bigger than the NRL/AFL.

              You only need to look at the amount of people involved in football around the country, and every other sport pales into insignificance by comparison.

              • August 1st 2017 @ 11:31am
                mattq said | August 1st 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

                exactly. people choosing to watch AFL/NRL are doing so not at the expense of the A-League. They are not interested in the A-League and we should not be trying to court their interest.

          • August 1st 2017 @ 10:27am
            Brian said | August 1st 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            Patience is required. I nearly always prefer both European football and AFL to HAL. I grew up watching them. The next generation will hopefully be different having grown up with the HAL.

          • August 1st 2017 @ 4:44pm
            Christo the Daddyo said | August 1st 2017 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

            Nope, in the past 12 months I’ve gone to AFL, A-League, NRL and BBL games. But there’s a limit to how much I’ll go to (combination of cost and logistics) – I’ve already ditched Super Rugby. And I know plenty of people who follow multiple codes.

            Plus, this comment – “The only competition those codes provide is for sponsors” – is reason enough for concern. There’s only so much sponsorship money available. And without large corporate sponsorship, ideas about football building it’s own stadiums will remain laughably out of reach. And not having football-specific stadiums is apparently one of the things holding the growth of football back…

            • August 1st 2017 @ 4:55pm
              Nemesis said | August 1st 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

              1) There will be sponsorship money if sponsors think there is positive return on their investment. End of story.

              2) You go to AFL, NRL, BBL & ALeague? Well, you’re the exception; not the norm. The TV ratings for AFL in Sydney & Brisbane; and NRL in Mel, Ade, Per clearly indicate there are insignificant numbers of people who watch both sports.

              3) A no-frills stadium can be built, with a positive ROI within 10 years. Single terrace; basic corporate facilities, not in the CBD.

              • August 2nd 2017 @ 9:47am
                clipper said | August 2nd 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

                Nemisis – Christo the Daddyo is correct in regards to attendance – especially in Sydney. The Sydney derbies get far more people than any NRL match, The Swans average attendance is far more than any other team in Sydney. People do go to more that one sport, but because of cost and time, only have a limited number of times they can go.

              • August 2nd 2017 @ 11:05am
                Nemesis said | August 2nd 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report


                Well, the TV ratings clearly indicate they’re not watching multiple sports on TV. TV ratings for AFL in Syd & Bri are insignificant; NRL ratings in Mel, Ade, Per are even worse.

                So, if non-AFL fans are watching AFL then it means the size of the committed AFL fan base is smaller than the ratings figures indicate since it includes: Rugby fans, RL fans, Football fans, cricket, tennis, water polo, hockey, etc. etc.

                Do people watch multiple events? Absolutely. But those people aren’t fans, they’re event-watchers. You can’t rely on event-watchers to generate income for your club. Event-watchers are the cream on top. The added bonus $ you get that is over the revenue you budget for.

              • August 2nd 2017 @ 1:53pm
                clipper said | August 2nd 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

                Yes, agree that there would be ‘event’ watchers, was really talking about attendance.
                The TV figures for NRL in Mel, Adel and Per are, as you say, even worse than AFL figures in Syd and Bris, but in Sydney you have to take into account that AFL is really only watched in the east, inner city and north shore and therefore the figures, as per the OZTAM structure, would be ‘flattened out’. It would also be interesting to find out if SBS is stronger in certain areas than others, as this could factor into the ‘real’ viewing figures.

              • August 5th 2017 @ 11:48am
                bryan said | August 5th 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

                The small “A” League” viewing audience in Perth, for one example, is , in my opinion, due to SBS only showing a couple of Glory games, compared to ch7s blanket coverage of all WCE & Fremantle AFL games.

                I guess I’m not a true Football fan, but watching two other teams play does nothing for me.

                I wouldn’t watch India versus Sri Lanka in the Cricket, as an example from another sport, even though it might be a great game, with superb players.
                I seldom watch AFL games which don’ t feature WA teams, & I only very rarely watch EPL games.

                I would suggest that I am more representative of the average Sports fan than those who omnivorously devour all Sport shown on TV.

    • August 1st 2017 @ 9:43am
      Lionheart said | August 1st 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      Great article, like one of those long-line fishers in the Pacific, you’re pulled up a whole lot of stuff. I’d like to see a few more articles from you Nick, focussed on the various aspects you raise here but analysed a bit more in depth.
      Watching occasional MLS games on BeIn, I’ve seen both Rio Tinto and BHP on team shirts, and of course Orica is heavily into pro-cycling. Also read an interesting article recently that suggested the cable networks are on the decline worldwide and that the latest EPL extravaganza (tv rights deal) may well be the last of the big money rights deals.

      • August 1st 2017 @ 1:20pm
        Melange said | August 1st 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

        I’m with you Lionheart. I’d be interested in analysis of the revenue figures. ALeague attendences are close to the Scottish Premier League however the SPL clubs average 12.4 Mill in revenue. How does ALeague avenue compare? Then, revenue is all well and good, how many clubs in the above competitions are in the black? How do they do it when most ALeague clubs can’t?