The confusing thing about A-League expansion

Janakan Seemampillai Roar Guru

By Janakan Seemampillai, Janakan Seemampillai is a Roar Guru

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113 Have your say

    Like most A-League fans, I am eagerly anticipating expansion and what it will bring to the domestic game. Will the league look to new horizons and create clubs from scratch or will they re-write history and bring in clubs from the NSL’s heydays?

    In October we will all know.

    One of the biggest obstacles is diluting the existing fan-bases of current clubs. While most new bidders say they won’t do this, the reality is they will, with how much so the key question.

    I’m a Wanderers fan with Melbourne City being my second team, however, with potential new teams in Campbelltown (where I grew up) and Geelong (where I lived for five years) provokes thought.

    If the ‘United for Macarthur’ Campbelltown bid gets up, would I ditch the Wanderers? What about Geelong? A region I spent five of the best years of my life of which the soccer community was a major part.

    No, I could never ditch my Wanderers! Heck, I have been a member since inception, even though I lived interstate, and have been to every away ground the Wanderers have just to show my commitment. I even planned a trip to Japan and South Korea in 2014 based around the successful ACL campaign.

    Melbourne City will always be owned by Manchester City – my Premier League team – so that won’t change either. I guess Campbelltown or Geelong will be teams I simply have a passing interest in and a bit of a soft spot.

    What about other fans? Many Geelong football fans follow Victory or City, will they abandon them if a home team comes in? In a recent survey conducted by The Wanderful Game (60 votes), 34 per cent of fans said they will stick to City or Victory, whereas the majority said they would jump ship and support their local club. When the time comes though, will that really be possible? Emotions are a powerful thing.

    What about Southern Expansion? Sydney FC claim 30-35 per cent of their members are based in southern Sydney. Southern Expansion seem like a shoe-in for one of the two available licences, the club has an impressive bid with a huge catchment area, and plenty of financial clout. Sydney FC struggle for loyal fans at the best of times, so it will be interesting to see how many will leave and join Southern if they come into the competition.

    ‘Team 11’ or South East Melbourne will be based in a region of 1.2 million people, with dozens of local clubs in their catchment area. Importantly, they plan to play in Dandenong, rather than AAMI Park, indicating a bit of differentiation to City and Victory. They will have geographic identity, something Melbourne City have lacked since they came into the competition in 2010.

    The question is how many fans in the Dandenong-Casey region already follow Victory or City? City for sure cannot afford to lose fans. Will Team 11 have more members than City when they come in? It’s a high chance.

    As for South Melbourne, they have a storied history. The Oceania team of the 20th Century have a solid financial base, a home ground, and a great football pedigree. The problem is they represent a bygone era, something the A-League was supposed to move Australian football away from.

    However their case is compelling. The club have a strong youth and female program, two vital criterion for obtaining a licence. But a large number of South Melbourne people are Victory fans, so is it a good move to take members away from one of the most powerful clubs?

    No doubt South will create a strong rivalry with Victory right away, even more significant than the Victory-City derby. The confusion among these Victory-South fans must be mind boggling, considering they are Victorian and struggle in that capacity anyway.

    It is both exciting and confusing, but ultimately our beautiful game will benefit.

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    The Crowd Says (113)

    • May 1st 2018 @ 8:36am
      Nemesis said | May 1st 2018 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      “Many Geelong football fans follow Victory or City, will they abandon them if a home team comes in”

      Stop & think for a moment. Don’t just use emotion to make assertions.

      Do the maths.

      In a State that has around 6 million people, MVFC has around 25,000 members. Given what we know about TV ratings for Aleague and attendance numbers for ALeague…

      Common sense would tell you there are not “many” people from anywhere in Victoria who follow Victory or City.

      I’m a huge ALeague fan. But, if I lived in Dandenong, or Cranbourne, or Casey Fields, or Geelong… I would probably not attach myself to MelbVictory, or, if I did, it would not be a strong bond because I would not have a strong bond with Melbourne. I would rarely visit Melbourne unless I worked in the CBD & I certainly wouldn’t shop, or socialize in Melbourne. And, I wouldn’t be travelling to watch to AAMI Park to watch ALeague kick-off at 8 pm on a Saturday night.

      But, if I lived in Geelong or Dandenong, and had an ALeague team that played in a local stadium? For sure. That would be my team.

      Sporting clubs everywhere were founded upon local communities. Why? Because people will engage with sporting clubs that are an extension for themselves. Of course, as the sporting brand evolves & grows, people outside the local community might also be attracted. But, if you think huge numbers of people around the world were following ManUnited 100 years ago, you’re way off the mark.

      • May 1st 2018 @ 9:15am
        Kangajets said | May 1st 2018 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        Newton Heath I think man utd started out as

        Probably a club for railway workers or miners in the north of England

    • Roar Pro

      May 1st 2018 @ 9:21am
      Ballymore Brumby said | May 1st 2018 @ 9:21am | ! Report

      I think the point that’s trying to be made is that its not really expansion/growing the game if its just redistributing the existing supporter base.

      Which means new clubs should be in areas that don’t active active A-League level teams. Canberra for example. The rest of Queensland outside of Brisbane City.

      • May 1st 2018 @ 9:44am
        Post_hoc said | May 1st 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Of course it is expansion, more teams equals expansion.

        If southern expansion has 5000, SFC fans in their catchment how many jump ship? 1/2?, 1/3? 1/4? what ever it is I can guarantee they are going to have more than 2,5000 members. Therefore more members = expansion.

        The TV deal agreed that more teams would increase the amount paid in the deal, therefore TV deal expands.

        So 3 key ‘metrics’ have all expanded, therefore two teams in existing catchments can mean expansion.

        • May 1st 2018 @ 9:51am
          chris said | May 1st 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

          PH exactly right. The market is there for expansion and the big investors know this. It’s a matter of tapping into it and refining the product. One thing football is not doing and that is contracting like Rugby is.

      • May 1st 2018 @ 11:18am
        SquareBall said | May 1st 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        Good point; cannibalizing existing markets will not grow the game to the extent to which opening up new markets will. This makes Canberra and The Gong in NSW and over 6,000km of coastline in Queensland worth a look in preference to the suburbs of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane where existing teams could expand their supporter bases by playing matches occassionally outside their respective CBDs.

        • May 1st 2018 @ 12:22pm
          Post_hoc said | May 1st 2018 @ 12:22pm | ! Report


          There are more people playing football in the Sutherland and St George area, than play football on that entire 6,000 km of coastline……..

    • May 1st 2018 @ 10:00am
      mattq said | May 1st 2018 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      I’m an Adelaide Utd fan from first inception. I was at every home game during that last NSL season. I was at every home game for the first A-League season. Then I moved to Canberra. I’ve been to various away games throughout the years including the GF mauling and also the GF win in 15/16. I have watched 90+% of their total games on Fox. I have lived the ups and downs, the p!ssants and the Spanish revolution. Since their creation I have married (to a SFC supporter from WS who changed allegiance one a team from her region was created) and had two boys who have picked Adelaide as “their team”. I now live in the Illawarra and have done so for 10 years. I will always be a Utd fan. However if the Gong gets a team we (my family) will all become Wolves fans (not Southern Expansion). We will become inaugural members and get season tickets every year. My boys will grow up with a team that represents the place they were born and grow up in. Matches between Wolves and United will be interesting affairs for me and I have no idea how I will feel. Expecting apathy regardless of winner and perhaps one day, after supporting the Wolves for so long, I will celebrate with pure emotion victories over United, who knows.

      Support can be lifelong and it can be representative. It makes perfect sense to me. The Illawarra is my home. The team will be my team. If I didn’t feel at home here then I doubt I’d feel affection for a Wollongong team. I felt no emotion for Canberra when I lived there and I can’t see that I’d have had any emotional connection to a Canberra team if there had been one created while I lived there (although I would’ve got season tickets just to attend live football).

      The A-League needs to expand. How fans choose their teams doesn’t matter. As long as they support the local league that’s all we should care about.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 1st 2018 @ 11:49am
        Pedro The Fisherman said | May 1st 2018 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Who would you support if one of the expansion teams came from Adelaide – say Adelaide City with its rich history in Australian soccer?

        • May 1st 2018 @ 2:35pm
          mattq said | May 1st 2018 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

          I casually followed City for a while when I was a kid, Zoran Matic was coach. Why would I change from United to City though? I don’t live in Adelaide any more and have no connection with Adelaide City. I don’t think your question gets to my point about local representation being a factor for support no matter of previous allegiances.

    • May 1st 2018 @ 10:11am
      Lionheart said | May 1st 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

      I don’t think Roar can support yet another Melbourne team, to be honest.

      • May 1st 2018 @ 10:21am
        Kangajets said | May 1st 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report


        • May 1st 2018 @ 11:52am
          Lionheart said | May 1st 2018 @ 11:52am | ! Report

          thought I’d throw it in for fun KJ, but hey, best of luck to you guys on Saturday. Should be a top game.

    • Roar Guru

      May 1st 2018 @ 10:34am
      Wayne said | May 1st 2018 @ 10:34am | ! Report

      I grew up in Adelaide before moving to Canberra. I am a casual Adelaide United fan in Mens, and a Canberra United fan in Women’s.

      If Canberra got an A-League team, I would still be an Adelaide fan in mens, and CBR in womens.

    • May 1st 2018 @ 11:16am
      dl2191 said | May 1st 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

      has anyone heard or read anybody at all at joe public level (ie not someone actively involved in pushing the project – Foster, Iemma et al) say that Southern Expansion is a good idea? every other potential bid has at least some geographic and historical coherence to it – surely critical if you intend with your bid to add incrementally to current football culture and metrics inside a couple of decades. Even if FFA take their money, SFC have absolutely nothing to worry about from this nebulous corporate frankenstein concept in terms of cannibalising support. Nor do the Wollongong wolves, even if they stay in the NPL.

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