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The FFA is missing a golden opportunity

Jess Fishlock of Melbourne City celebrates a goal during the Women's W-League final between the Perth Glory and Melbourne City FC at nib Stadium in Perth, on Sunday, Feb.12, 2017. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)
Roar Guru
14th January, 2018
21

Melbourne Victory beat cross-town rivals City 2-1 in a cracking Melbourne derby yesterday. The match was highly anticipated with many fans excited about a game between two fierce rivals who have delivered many exciting contests in recent times.

Their feelings were vindicated in what turned out to be a thrilling match turned on its head by one of the goals of the season.

The missing link was this game was not televised across the country meaning numerous fans who unfortunately couldn’t get to Epping Stadium missed out. Why do you ask? Simple, it was a W-League game and not an A-League match.

The game was streamed live on Foxtel but for many fans, this is not a feasible option. The casual fan who we need to convert into a passionate follower would most definitely not consider logging on to their laptop and spending their Sunday afternoon fighting a dodgy internet stream to watch the game.

The W-League TV coverage has improved significantly in 2017-18 with 27 games broadcast live on SBS and Foxtel. However, this needs to be upgraded to every game for 2018-19 at least on SBS or ABC.

The cost of this is going to be tricky with W-League still not lucrative enough for a mega TV deal but by putting the game on TV, you showcase the product to a potential audience, an audience who is growing by the minute with female football a much more appreciated spectacle than it once was.

The coverage this year has been exceptional with the likes of Matildas legends Amy Taylor and Sarah Walsh providing great insight into the W-League in their pre and post-match analysis.

jess-fishlock-w-league-football-2017

(AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

Putting more games as double-headers (up from the 25 originally scheduled this year) is a great way to keep costs down for TV stations and to make televising the match more appealing to the likes of Foxtel and Ten. There are so many young girls playing football who need to see the path that is on offer for them if they want to pursue the game more seriously.

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There are also more adults (including men) who are captivated by the improved standards of the women’s game. Stars like Sam Kerr, Jess Fishlock, Natasha Dowie and Lee Falkon, to name a few, have really captured the imagination of football enthusiasts.

By grabbing these fans, it makes the game more lucrative for sponsors and TV entities alike, meaning more money comes into the sport which in turn can lead to decent wages for the players, meaning they can produce an even better product.

Melina Ayres’ goal yesterday for the Victory in Epping was brilliant. A great tackle followed by an instinctive 35-yard lob over a despairing Lydia Williams in the City goals. It is a shame not many will get to see it as the goal would have made headlines if it was scored in the A-League or Premier League.

The excitement of the Victory players and fans showed just how far the W-League has come. But the FFA is missing a golden opportunity to get more fans for the world game and, indeed, the female version of it with the lack of coverage the competition is recieving.

Some cracking matchups are happening in the coming weeks, with Melbourne Victory visiting ANZ Stadium on Friday to take on the Western Sydney Wanderers. Superstar Sam Kerr and her Perth Glory teammates host powerhouse Canberra United at Hay Park next Saturday. The Sydney derby is coming up in a few weeks, too.

Hopefully, this time next year we will be talking about how everyone got a chance to see the spectacular goals and exciting contests dished up by the women. It’s up to the FFA and the W-League to make a move and for Foxtel and the free-to-air networks to come to the party. Otherwise, it is the fans who miss out.