What will the sporting landscape look like in Sydney in 2050?

Aligee Roar Rookie

By Aligee, Aligee is a Roar Rookie

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    What will the football sporting landscape look like in Sydney in 2050?

    Australian rules, rugby league, rugby union and football all have their strong points, all have their heartlands and all have or have had at different stages ambitious growth plans to spread their game.

    Sydney is Australia’s most populous city, Australia’s financial hub, Australia’s international city. Win over Sydney and the rest of the country should fall into line.

    I imagine that thought has crossed many a sporting CEOs mind, but is it all a bit of a mirage.

    Does Sydney really care as much as the Southern Capitals and Brisbane about sports? Does being top dog in Sydney mean eventually being top dog in the country?

    Sports-wise, Melbourne is our capital. Of that there is really no doubt. Perhaps culturally across a number of areas it is as well, but that can be argued and quite frankly I don’t really care.

    There is no doubt that Sydney is our international city, it has an outdoor, beach and water sports culture that Melbourne just can’t compare with.

    The AFL is pouring resources into Sydney hoping to capture more of the market and is making good inroads.

    Football is at grassroots level far and away the market leader, and if they managed to turn players into fans they could pop another two A-League clubs in with very little trouble.

    Rugby league has the West sewn up and perhaps also down South around Cronulla is another heartland, but still crowds and grassroots are dwindling in the world home of the game.

    It could even be argued that Brisbane is the home of the game now, but there is no doubt league still has plenty of pull in Sydney.

    Rugby union has its Australian home and flagship for the game in Sydney and there has been talk of another Super Rugby club out West at different stages.

    Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (centre) with the Sydney Swans' Adam Goodes (left), Sydney FC's Alessandro Del Piero (2nd from left) and Sydney Roosters' Sonny Bill WIlliams (right) at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    So as we can see Sydney is a very tight, cut-throat market. It is also the most split in terms of its football following among any Australian city.

    While many would say league is undisputed king and point at TV ratings, I think many things need to be taken into consideration and TV ratings is just one.

    The market has changed in Sydney probably more than any other capital. Even up to ten years ago RL was unchallenged as the undisputed king, it was a long long way ahead of any other football code.

    Go back 20/30 years and it would have been pretty hard to foresee the change in the Sydney footballing market that we are looking at today.

    If Sydney is the real prize in Australian sport, it begs the question of what its footballing scene will look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years, will RL still be considered King?

    Will union make it out of a few Eastern suburbs private schools? Will football still have huge participation but still sit low in the public’s consciousness?

    Will AFL build on its last few years of good growth to become a bigger player in the Sydney market?

    Will one code surge ahead and become an outright market leader in Sydney?

    Who really knows what the future will hold?

    What do you think Roarers, what will your favourite football code look like in Sydney in the future?

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    The Crowd Says (187)

    • January 21st 2018 @ 7:17am
      jeff dustby said | January 21st 2018 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      probably be exactly the same. What evidence can you show that sport is bigger in Brisbane than Sydney – please dont say the mediocre Broncos crowds?

      • January 26th 2018 @ 3:53pm
        Norad said | January 26th 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

        So the good people of the home city of Australia’s game demand we “change the date” of Australia Day. AFL and Melbourne deserve each other.

        • Roar Guru

          January 26th 2018 @ 4:39pm
          Cat said | January 26th 2018 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

          Wow, how ridiculous your argument has become. That’s got to be the ultimate grasping at straws

        • January 26th 2018 @ 4:40pm
          Aligee said | January 26th 2018 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

          Unfortunately IMO the inner suburbs of Melbourne once the bastion of decent working class folk, principally the same as inner Sydney suburbs have been over run with trendy latte sipping lefties, who don’t really represent IMO Australians or Australia, they love the old gritty vibe of the inner city but dont expect to see a blue collar anywhere.

          Its a pretty poor effort if you really think your post is in any way valid and representative and a equally poor effort if your post is just a tr0ll.

    • January 21st 2018 @ 7:55am
      jamesb said | January 21st 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Stay the same. It is only 32 years away.Write an article about what the sporting landscape would be like in 2100. By than, the landscape may change in Sydney, but we would all be dead.

      • January 21st 2018 @ 3:17pm
        Kangajets said | January 21st 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

        The global superpowers of China and India will probably control the technology market for world wide sport , so cricket will survive.

        Maybe people who lose interest in world sport might return to the suburban sports ground to watch a local amateur team as a community event .

        • Roar Guru

          January 21st 2018 @ 3:33pm
          Cat said | January 21st 2018 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

          India a superpower? hahahahaha. Super overpopulated? Sure. Powerful? Nah.

          • January 21st 2018 @ 4:30pm
            Kangajets said | January 21st 2018 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

            India has come a long way , but will never reach first world standards. The caste issue in India is another story all together and worthwhile doing some culture studies .

            But if u don’t believe the rich cricket tv / technology companies in India will get bigger and richer than that’s your choice in what you believe.

            With the increasing Indian Asian population in Sydney , I think the rugby , oz rulz and , football sports have reached their limit of expansion.


          • January 21st 2018 @ 4:42pm
            Johnny Dalmas said | January 21st 2018 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

            Well the Indians control world cricket and will only further dominate that sport (off-field at least).
            Over the next three decades they, along with China, will grow their off field power in a number of sports because of their willingness to spend money on licensing rights.

            • January 21st 2018 @ 4:46pm
              Kangajets said | January 21st 2018 @ 4:46pm | ! Report


              Exactly, but that doesn’t fit the narrative they want to hear about Sydney and their chosen sport .

              • January 22nd 2018 @ 12:38pm
                clipper said | January 22nd 2018 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                That’s very true.
                30 years ago, the same question would’ve been asked, and people like jamesb would’ve said the landscape will stay the same – but you just have to look at how much it’s changed the Swans are the most attended team, we’re now an all code city, Football keeps growing, league keeps declining – why won’t it continue changing?

    • January 21st 2018 @ 8:17am
      punter said | January 21st 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      The author falls into the same trap every AFL fan has, they equate the popularity of football to the following of the A-League.

      • January 21st 2018 @ 10:21am
        RandyM said | January 21st 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        They also fall into the trap of thinking that since AFL dominates Melbourne it can just as easily dominate anywhere else. Except that the game is religion in Melbourne and is given media and government protection that other codes don’t get.

        sydney is a fickle market, there is little AFL heritage there and despite strong crowds for the Swans the game struggles to capture the imagination of the larger part of the city. The AFL doesn’t have a state of origin or international game it can sell to sydney. The AFL can continue to chip away at grass roots and it appears to be doing pretty well but at the premier level it’s never going to be given the same luxuries it gets down south because the top level of the game just doesn’t sell.

        • January 21st 2018 @ 11:28am
          mdso said | January 21st 2018 @ 11:28am | ! Report

          RandyM; I agree with you, living on the far south of NSW and previously from Victoria.

          It will be interesting to watch what the AFL may do, is begin to show case AFLX, firstly as a way of the players having natch practice and getting fit for the actual AFL SEASON. Secondly, to create interest is a new hybrid game which might become a bit of this and bit of that combining bits of many (regardless of the ball shape) ball games.

          It has to be a long term venture in NSW and Queensland which is still the heart of Rugby League and Union and also an emerging Soccer.

          What we might see in the future is bigger club lists both men and women players begin to play a combination of games. This would mean the AFL would have to find a way to stretch the salary cap.

        • January 21st 2018 @ 12:32pm
          Aligee said | January 21st 2018 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

          Australian Football fans make pilgrimages to Melbourne once or a couple of times a year to see their old team or following their non Victorian AFL team, this is huge business and the Government knows this, if anything it is not to protect the game, it is to protect themselves and the income derived from it.

          Australian Football more than pays for itself, the only codes to get a real leg up in Melbourne the ones who had a 100% Government funded tax payer stadium built for them

        • January 21st 2018 @ 10:27pm
          ac said | January 21st 2018 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

          Also TV audiences for AFL in Sydney are very poor. Yes good crowds but very poor tv ratings.

        • January 23rd 2018 @ 4:25pm
          Perry Bridge said | January 23rd 2018 @ 4:25pm | ! Report


          your comment re AFL in Melbourne ” is given media and government protection that other codes don’t get”

          Firstly – check out the media (Daily Telegraph) saturation of NRL in Sydney – for a code with okay TV but very average attendance in such a split market – the NRL get overs.

          re Govt protection – actually no – Govt’s have actively worked in favour of the competition. At the top level – the Govt money goes into the Tennis centre, into AAMI Park (for rugby/soccer). The AFL (and prior – the VFL) got blocked over and again with respect to their 100% built and owned VFL Park stadium such that the best option turned out to knock it down and sell the carpark. The Govt backs in the MCG Trust and MCC as ground managers which ensures that Cricket Club members get the best seats in the house to every AFL match at the MCG – including the Grand Final.

          Simple maths – AAMI Park, $267 million 100% Govt funded. MCG and Etihad between them over $1 billion and less than 10% from Govt. It takes a lot of little grants to AFL clubs to improve their training facilities to get anywhere near the shortfall in funding. The AFL is in many respects more taken advantage of rather than protected in Victoria by State Govt.

          • January 24th 2018 @ 8:32am
            RandyM said | January 24th 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

            The NSW police aren’t required to consult with the NRL before bringing NRL related matters to light like the Vic Police do with the AFL…

      • January 21st 2018 @ 10:24am
        Ac jumbo said | January 21st 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report


        The swans and giants will be relocated to Stawell and Wodonga by 2050 . Sydney will have 4 soccer teams in the Asian super league by 2050 .

        • January 21st 2018 @ 1:38pm
          R King said | January 21st 2018 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

          I like your thinking but not sure of an Asian Super League. It is an interesting discussion that’s for sure.

          • January 22nd 2018 @ 10:31pm
            Nick Symonds said | January 22nd 2018 @ 10:31pm | ! Report

            The AFL might start an Asian Super league by 2050.

        • January 24th 2018 @ 1:38pm
          Kevin Pearson said | January 24th 2018 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

          GWS have a larger membership then most NRL teams and only been in AFL for few years, and Sydney have a membership of nearly 60,000 ! Explain that then ?

          • January 25th 2018 @ 6:48pm
            Josh said | January 25th 2018 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

            Easy, the Midgets are fudging their numbers with Canberra residents and 2 club members.

            They have 2/10th’s genuine numbers.

      • January 23rd 2018 @ 7:19am
        AR said | January 23rd 2018 @ 7:19am | ! Report

        Most “AFL fans” I know, play soccer in some form throughout the year.

        Indoor soccer, park, at the beach. It’s easy, fun and social.

        Most “ALeague fans” fall into the trap of thinking this broad based participation means these people will be converted into interested ALeague fans. Just a matter of “unlocking” them.

        That’s the popular folly.

        • January 25th 2018 @ 7:20am
          punter said | January 25th 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

          I understand you will never understand, however I’ll give it another go.
          There are lots of soccer fans who don’t follow the A-League, because it’s the 78th best soccer competition in the world, up against the best Australian football (AFL in my language) competition in the world.
          This is why in Melbourne gets 99K & 85K to watch Real Madrid play within a week & 95K for Liverpool. Likewise in Sydney for big O/S teams, lots of soccer fans come out to watch the biggest & best teams.

          Now many AFL fans says this is just event followers, I disagree. If these were just event goers, please explain why less then 15K attended the GWS semi finals this year? This was a huge event, the biggest game of AFL in Sydney, the biggest competition of any sport in Australia, this is a massive event some of the best AFL players in the world, but was beaten by a friendly women’s soccer game in Sydney.

          • Roar Guru

            January 25th 2018 @ 10:24am
            Cat said | January 25th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

            You are comparing one game of AFL footy (there are 198 H&A games and an additional 9 finals every year) to an event that may only happen once in a persons lifetime.

            Put it this way if AC/DC did a regular tour of Australia with limited dates in select cities, it would sell out in minutes. However, if they played 207 dates throughout the year, the ticket sales would plummet. People would have had their fill.

            You simply cannot reliably compare one off events to regularly occurring events.

            • January 27th 2018 @ 11:16am
              punter said | January 27th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

              This was not a H/A game, nor do Sydney get to host 9 finals, this was a semi finals, the biggest game of Australian Rules football in Sydney last year.
              This was AC/DC final concert that included guest appearances from Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Slash & Jack White.

              • Roar Guru

                January 27th 2018 @ 12:33pm
                Cat said | January 27th 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

                Finals are not a once in a lifetime event. Some of these big euro clubs playing a practice match here are.

              • January 29th 2018 @ 9:22pm
                punter said | January 29th 2018 @ 9:22pm | ! Report

                Yeah, these once in a lifetime event, big Euro clubs playing a practice match, but it seems to be happening every year & a few times per year.
                I would think the AFL Grand Final as a event even though it happens every year, so why wouldn’t Sydney hosting a semi finals considering they can never host a GF as an event. But only 15K, hmmmmm.

    • Roar Guru

      January 21st 2018 @ 9:40am
      Grobbelaar said | January 21st 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      If SFC can continue its current dominance of the A-League, I can foresee them overtaking the largest NRL club in terms of attendances (in 2017, the Roosters had the highest average attendance of the Sydney clubs with 15,387).

      Coincidentally, Parra had the 2nd highest average attendance in 2017 (14,346) and in a good year, the Wanderers are able to surpass that.

      Needless to say both will exceed the Giants’ average attendance (although the Giants’ TV ratings are much higher)..

      I also predict that the lowest attendance SFC or the Wanderers get would still exceed the Giants’ highest attendance in the Womens’ AFL (although it’s a bit tighter when it comes to comparing TV ratings).

      • January 21st 2018 @ 10:20am
        jamesb said | January 21st 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report


      • January 21st 2018 @ 11:45am
        jeff dustby said | January 21st 2018 @ 11:45am | ! Report

        just recently dogs and rabbits were both over 20k. if parra, dragons or wither of them get better you will see crowds surge

        the roosters, manly and sharks are sydneys best teams in 2917, they are not crowd pullers

      • January 21st 2018 @ 1:41pm
        R King said | January 21st 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

        Interesting stats Grobb, bums on seats is only one measure of success, with all sports relying on TV money I think ratings will become more important than they now are. The question needs to be asked is what are the FFA [or who is in charge of it] is going to do about it.

        • Roar Guru

          January 21st 2018 @ 3:08pm
          Grobbelaar said | January 21st 2018 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

          Well, speaking of ratings, just got the latest A-League ratings in:

          Last night’s match of the round:

          STV Saturday #FoxSports #ALeague #SYDvCCM: 43k (plus FTA metro rating of 37k)

          STV Saturday #FoxSports #ALeague #NEWvWEL: 29k

          Incredibly, Fox ratings continue to be higher than our ratings on FTA (5 city metro), which is unbelievable considering we not only moved from a low- rating public broadcaster to commercial FTA, but we gave commercial FTA the top game of the round.

          • January 21st 2018 @ 3:12pm
            Rasty said | January 21st 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

            Thanks for sharing those soccer ratings with us.

          • Roar Guru

            January 21st 2018 @ 3:40pm
            Cat said | January 21st 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

            Those are some putrid looking numbers.

            • January 21st 2018 @ 4:44pm
              Manly said | January 21st 2018 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

              Fans of the sherrin appear to be circling about the A league numbers .

              Kinda like seagulls fighting over a chip.

              • January 21st 2018 @ 5:30pm
                Aligee said | January 21st 2018 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

                Least they have some fight!

              • January 21st 2018 @ 5:32pm
                Drago said | January 21st 2018 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

                That sounds original… Perhaps a little Manly.

              • Roar Guru

                January 21st 2018 @ 6:30pm
                Cat said | January 21st 2018 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

                Or it’s your soccer apologists who invade the AFL tab with your take over nonsense.

              • January 21st 2018 @ 6:35pm
                Manly said | January 21st 2018 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

                The story is about sport in Sydney , not abt footy .

              • Roar Guru

                January 22nd 2018 @ 11:18am
                Cat said | January 22nd 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

                Story is on the AFL tab only.

          • January 21st 2018 @ 4:21pm
            Alicesprings said | January 21st 2018 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

            That 29k watching the NSWvWEL translates to 0.001% of the Australian population. I’m reminded of those predictions of $100m/pa plus for the HAL rights – how wrong they were.

            What happens with TV/media rights going forward will play a major role in what the sporting landscape looks like come 2050 in Sydney and Australia wide. What is also clear is that non broadcast revenue will become increasingly important.

            Hard to see the status quo changing too significantly.

            • January 22nd 2018 @ 3:54pm
              DB said | January 22nd 2018 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

              It’s 0.1% or 0.001

              • January 22nd 2018 @ 4:34pm
                Alicesprings said | January 22nd 2018 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

                Ha..wondered if anyone one was going to pick that up! Got to remember to times by 100!

      • January 21st 2018 @ 10:28pm
        ac said | January 21st 2018 @ 10:28pm | ! Report

        Sorry a league attendance are on the slide presently.

      • January 22nd 2018 @ 11:51pm
        terrence said | January 22nd 2018 @ 11:51pm | ! Report

        grobbelaar, wiil sydney fc and the wonderers (and the rest of the a-league) still be hiding behind the skirt of the bbl and cricket or will they finally start to compete head-to-head with the big person winter sports (by 2100)?

        if they are getting poor numbers in the big boy off season like you currently pointed out, they could be decades away from even considering taking on the nrl/afl/even the rugga buggas….

        • January 29th 2018 @ 9:57am
          Post_hoc said | January 29th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

          I love how you AFL fanboys think the decision to play summer is based on AFL. I know I know you guys have hard time trying to understand international competitions, but here you go. We are aligned with the transfer windows. We play Summer so align ourselves with the larger competitions world wide, we start as the Transfer window closes in NH Summer, and we have another injection of players in January during their winter transfer period. This makes player movement so much easier. It also aligns players for our national campaigns, so domestic based players are in the same match fitness for international matches.

          I know hard for you all to understand.

    • January 21st 2018 @ 9:40am
      Norad said | January 21st 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      AFLX will be the only game played in 2050. It will have seen off everyone else, including the AFL comp.

      • January 21st 2018 @ 1:44pm
        R King said | January 21st 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

        you think? playing Aussie rules on soccer pitches in the parklands is more likely the case. Using a round ball, eleven aside, introduce offside and ‘handball’ while you’re at it. yeah it might catch on.

    • January 21st 2018 @ 9:47am
      Kangajets said | January 21st 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Sydney will be just another suburb of Newcastle in 10 years .

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