The Roar
The Roar


It’s the associations, it’s the associations

(Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
21st November, 2017

When Bill Clinton was first running for president of the US against George H.W. Bush, a sign in his campaign headquarters read, among other things, “The economy, stupid.”

Professional football in Australia has, in over 80 years, not been able to connect to its player base. The importance of connecting to the player base cannot be overstated.

Why is this so? What could they do for football? Answers later.

Three teams in my lifetime have connected to the associations and were amazingly successful. Perth Glory, The Northern Spirit who copied PG and KN United years before.

No other team to my knowledge has connected to the player base in a meaningful way.

Today feels to me like a bit of history with many people proclaiming new systems will be a fix all. P&R is the current flavour of the month with advocates believing it is the Holy Grail itself.

P&R will be a huge part of our growth but we need to have people caring about football first.

Ange Postecoglou said on Offsiders why he felt like an outsider, he said he wants to appeal to all Australia culture, not just the football culture which is what many in football believe.

To my earlier questions, why they are so important and what can they do?


The often quoted 18% player base connection to the professional game is the core issue. Increasing this will result in revenue gains the like we have never seen.

I want to break this down to a single imaginary team and introduce Human Behavioural Science [HBS], techniques and models. Assume a team has 16 players with subs. Now apply the 18% factor and you get between two or three players per side interested in the A-League.

HBS models will tell you two to three people in a group carry some but limited effect on group think and human dynamics.

Growth the interest level to say 30% to 32% and you grow the group to five to six players. HBS models will tell you the growth in interest and with the number between five and six, there is a real possibility to grow this number to between 60 and 70% quite quickly.

A connection of anything around 40% would generate rating and revenue we have never seen before, anything around 70% is mind-blowing.

With 780 clubs and over a million players and arguably another 50,000 volunteers, add parents and friends and we are looking at maybe 2 million people.

Each club has a president or chairman or similarly titled leader and a committee that runs the club. Canteen, training schedules, kits, dressing fields, arranging coaches and so on.

The president and their committees are usually trusted by their player base and have some influence over this group.


Marketers will tell you a recommendation from a trusted source counts very high with most people.

Most of the people who work on committees are football folk, and most are willing to help so long as it does not create a huge amount of work for them.

My frustration that FFA and the clubs have been unable or even tried to connect to this base, and that our media historically give credit for the player base to the professional game when it has always been the district associations and their park team and their volunteers who have grown the player base.

FFA and clubs should go and ask the associations how they can help. The associations hold the keys to the gold mine.