Now to turn a ‘fling with football’ into a steady relationship

Stuart Thomas Columnist

By Stuart Thomas, Stuart Thomas is a Roar Expert

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    Australian fans had plenty to celebrate in Stuttgart back in 2006. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

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    As competitive, global and beautiful as the World Cup may turn out to be, the reality is that there is a mighty lot of cashing in going on as we speak.

    As people receive their team kit in the post, advertising boards are erected and ticket sales make a seat at the big matches as rare as hen’s teeth, the corporate realities are obvious.

    I woke this morning to a post on Facebook where a friend had received their new Socceroos kit with ‘ARZANI’ emblazoned across the shoulders.

    Days earlier I had been reading the astonishing pre-order figures on the Nigerian equivalent. Nothing enunciates the financial ramifications of the world’s biggest sporting event more than three million people ordering a simple yet striking lime green shirt.

    Averaged out at around $100 per shirt, the revenue is astonishing. Those not in the pre-sale will snap up the remaining stock, and when all 32 teams tally up their numbers one can only guess the final fashion figure.

    In reality the passionate purchase of kit is the purest form of commercialism around the cup. Airlines, car manufacturers and credit card providers are on board once again and the amount of flesh that will be pressed in corporate boxes and swanky functions will be considerable.

    Undoubtedly there will be some big gains, whether they be purely financial or reputational ones, as business craves added ‘trust’ in their brands.

    Food and beverage providers will turn over copious amounts of product and I hope the deals struck with the organisers allow them to do so at a reasonable price to the consumer while also permitting them to make a quid or two in the process.

    Tim Cahill celebrates scoring a goal

    (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

    Despite analysts warning of little or no long-term positive impact on the Russian economy, let’s hope the local traders have a bumper couple of months.

    Coffee shop and cafe owners must be rubbing their hands with glee. However, with the sense of adventure and passion already being displayed by some groups of travelling supporters, late-night fast food stores might be in for some wild times over the next month.

    We will all be bombarded with advertising, both digital and print, with corporates desperate to build that aforementioned trust and etch their brand firmly in our subconscious minds.

    Shameless cross-promotion will cause many to gnaw their own teeth, as amateur tipsters from reality television programs offer their thoughts on matches, all the while donned in national kit and misrepresenting their actual understanding of the game.

    And football itself will benefit. Teams will walk away with enormous sums of prize money from the total pool of $US791 million ($A1.044 billion). For smaller nations such as ourselves even a first-round exit makes an important difference to the coffers, and FIFA’s sale of the broadcast rights should be able to pay for a few executive lunches over the next 12 months.

    In the end, when money is involved, someone always wins. However, one nation will also win on the pitch and a team captain will hold the most sacred trophy aloft in Moscow.

    Massimo Luongo takes on the Colombia team

    (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

    With so much ‘cashing in’ and Australians being actively encouraged to dabble with infidelity and have a little ‘fling with football’, an age-old question arises: how does Australian football parlay our participation in and the excitement of the World Cup finals into further growth and engagement with the domestic product?

    Certainly things appear better after every four-year cycle, and in conversations with more casual sports followers the interest is clearly apparent this time around.

    Yet the chasm between 23 young Australian men on the other side of the globe and the traditionally cynical attitude of mainstream Australia is still vast – narrowing, but vast.

    Once these men, particularly those with strong A-League ties, have completed their duties the FFA needs to ensure that they are back on Australian soil more often.

    Of course the international footballing calendar is a complex and sometimes indecipherable beast and permission for our boys to return home is not guaranteed, yet the national team is key to growth.

    Heaven forbid we could even organise matches beyond Sydney and Melbourne or see the governing body promote the game with the same vigour as passionate football journalists and corporate entities such as Hyundai and Aldi.

    We can talk about grassroots issues, state associations and national curriculums until the cows come home. and they’re all important – however, changing the mindset of the big event Socceroos supporter who tucks the scarf back in the closet only for it to re-emerge around Asian Cup time is our biggest challenge.

    It’s certainly not doom and gloom, and the support for the Socceroos is stronger than ever, yet it would be advantageous to turn this fling into something a little more substantial.

    Nothing would give it a bigger shot in the arm than a Socceroos performance for the ages in Russia.

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

    State of Origin 2 is here, with the Blues looking to wrap the 2018 series up and the Maroons hoping to keep it alive and force a decider. Follow along with our NSW vs QLD Origin 2 live scores and blog.

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    The Crowd Says (44)

    • June 14th 2018 @ 8:03am
      Fadida said | June 14th 2018 @ 8:03am | ! Report

      So many people with no interest in sport tune in to the Olympics every 4 years, cheering on Australian athletes as though their lives depend on it. Huge tv numbers.

      When those same sportsmen and women next compete outside of the Olympics onky their parents and partners are watching or caring. It’s the nature of Australian sport watchers

      Football’s challenge is to get the eurosnobs to the A-league.

      • June 15th 2018 @ 11:21am
        Perry Bridge said | June 15th 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report


        So true – comparison to the Olympics.

        In reality – there’s nothing wrong with that. People are busy. There’s a lot on.

        As the author runs through the corporate elements of this – the reality is that the FIFA WC is a MASSIVE money spinner for FIFA. It’s their ‘Red Shield Appeal’!!

        And those of us who looked at the implications that might have flowed has Australia been preparing to host the event in 4 years time – it was clear that FIFA want a total blank canvas and to control everything.

        So – concern for the average Joe punter not being ripped off (too much) is valid – but – isn’t really part of FIFA’s concern for this event. This is like the Casino marketing to the high-rollers.

        The benefits locally – around Russia – yep – you hope the local traders can generate 2 years worth of revenue over the next 6 weeks. Usually – Olympics and WCs – the trend is that in the lead up and after the event the normal tourist trade drops off – people focus their travel on the event while others stay away fearful of increased costs.

        And in 12 months time……the reflected glory doesn’t last.

        What I find odd about this article is that Stuart has cobbled two into one.

        The 2nd half about ‘have a fling with football’ being marketed to Australians – – this comes back to #Fadida’s comment – that to me already happens – – the ‘fling’ already happens. It’s the steady relationship that is lacking.

        But – you don’t build a steady relationship around the FIFA WC. That’s like building a steady relationship based on 3 weeks on ‘Love Island’. That’s not the day to day!!!

        It’s like expecting people to turn up to the Sheffield Shield based on an Aust v Eng Boxing Day Ashes test. Ain’t gonna happen!!!

    • June 14th 2018 @ 8:12am
      Onside said | June 14th 2018 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      To the uninitiated Stuart , it is more likely to be a one night stand, than a fling.

      Even then,many will admit to not believing in one night stands, ‘what, all night’?

      How FFA invest any financial windfall will impact on any long term relationship.

      Think Rugby World Cup in Australia 2003 and the many millions of dollars that
      were squandered ,hyperbole of how the local game was going to flourish , and
      see the problems that beset the code years later , at grass roots level , all that.

      Any long term relationship will be the result of wise investment in the game at
      grass roots level.

      The foundation is there in the FFA Cup, with over 700 clubs competing from all
      over Australia, making it the largest competition in the country.

      And every club has several teams that take notice, male and female ,from under
      age little tackers, right through to seniors.

      • Columnist

        June 14th 2018 @ 12:02pm
        Stuart Thomas said | June 14th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        I hope we are in this group stage for longer than the well stated ‘one night stand’. Yet I share the concern for a bad loss against the French. As a friend of mine said the other day, ‘what are all you soccer people going on about, you’re gonna get smashed in the first game anyway’. I cried.

        • June 14th 2018 @ 1:05pm
          Onside said | June 14th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

          Bit of a smart Alec remark from me Stuart , but I couldn’t resist it.

          Aussies carry on a bit about, ‘punching above their weight’ when
          competing at sports, but we sometimes loose sight of the need
          to appreciate not only being there in the company of greatness,
          but also how difficult the journey, the competitions rite of passage.

          To compete against France et al ,is our moment in the sun in the
          company of greatness.

          And hey,that fat lady who sings,she can be real tricky sometimes.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 14th 2018 @ 8:15am
      Waz said | June 14th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Let’s hope for a really good Socceroos performance and a run through to the quarter finals, we deserve it 😀

      The ‘fling’ is aimed at people who don’t follow any particular sport or who for the four years in between are engrossed by another code but divert for 4 weeks or so to share our joy. That’s ok.

      I’d be interested to know how many shirts the FFA have sold, I’d hope for 500,000 or so ($50m?) but given the lack of advertising and promotion I suspect it’s closer to 50,000 … I guess we’ll find out in the next financial reports and Lowy’s latest “we have no money” speech (ever wonder why Steven?).

      C’mon The ‘Roo’s 👍

      • June 14th 2018 @ 8:28am
        Nemesis said | June 14th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        I doubt we’ll get any insights about “shirts sold” from the FY2019 Financial Statements. It’s highly likely, the merchandise is fully owned by Nike, who assume all the costs of design, production, marketing, warehousing, distribution, & sales and Nike banks the revenue. Most likely, Nike pays the FFA a Royalty Fee (or similar) for each shirt sold. How much? Who knows but I guarantee it won’t be $100 per shirt. I’d only be guessing, but I’d be happy if FFA could bank $20 from each shirt sold. Plus FFA would receive an up-front fee from Nike to be the FFA’s kit supplier.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 14th 2018 @ 8:32am
          Waz said | June 14th 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

          I think you’re spot on with that.

          The commercial model the FFA seem to operate is that of a classic Franchisor – get a little clip, from a lot of things, and often.

          I don’t think the model is right myself, especially for big events like the WC, and it’s not just the A League operating model that’s in need of change.

          • June 14th 2018 @ 10:04am
            Nemesis said | June 14th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

            To be fair, I think every football shirt is owned by the brand that sells it; not the club, or national team.

            The big money is from the clothing brand paying a club/nation for the right to be the official supplier. Even big clubs, like Real Madrid, Man Utd, etc. are reported to get only about 10-15% royalty fee from sales.

            • Roar Rookie

              June 15th 2018 @ 9:35am
              At work said | June 15th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

              I’ve heard similar small cuts are paid to A League clubs.
              With the sale of a $120 replica shirt, the club only receives ~5% of that.

      • June 14th 2018 @ 9:52am
        Fadida said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        Nike surely are the ones to profit, unless the FFA are making their own shirts?

        I’m not sure it’s FFA’s job to promote Nike shirts….

        • June 14th 2018 @ 9:58am
          Fadida said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          I hope we can all agree that anyone who doesn’t know the world cup is on, and that we are involved isn’t a football fan, and no amount of promotion will change that?

          How FFA spend the WC windfall is the issue.

          • Roar Rookie

            June 14th 2018 @ 1:26pm
            Waz said | June 14th 2018 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

            EPL clubs make huge fortunes out of shirt sales, we could do that (without the eye-gouging that goes in over there of course). This is something repeated by the FA and other codes over their such as the RFU. Australia is no different surely?

            There’s a general lack of promotion going on – I generally buy diesel at Caltex out of loyalty but I haven’t seen one piece of promotion in their (Brisbane) stores … they could be selling stickers, shirts, flags etc etc and everyone gets a cut but they’re not. Why not?

            This is one of the criticisms laid at the feet of the FFA by their opponents – they don’t know how to commercialise their products and work with the likes of Caltex and Aldi.

            • June 14th 2018 @ 1:47pm
              mattq said | June 14th 2018 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

              FFA stuffed it this year. Obviously signed exclusive deals with Caltex and Rebel for merchandise, locking out the department stores like BigW, Kmart and Best&Less. Apparently 600 Caltex stores have merch. I went to 3 last weekend (ok small sample but how far do I need to drive!) and not one had merchandise. So my kids go into the Cup without a cheap socceroos shirt (I’m not paying $100 for a kids replica especially when 2&4 yo’s grow so fast). I bought a Socceroos Russian hat from their online store, $30 plus delivery, it looks great but is too small for my head!

              Overall the lead up and promotion of this world cup has been limp. Even the Sydney papers last weekend had nothing special, a measly team photo on newspaper. I have a scarf given out by the papers from a previous world cup. Vic sunday paper had a banner at least.

    • Roar Guru

      June 14th 2018 @ 8:48am
      AdelaideDocker said | June 14th 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Good article, Stuart.

      The one thing I’ve noticed throughout a lot of the people I’ve spoken to – those who are eagerly watching the World Cup – is that so many aren’t, or aren’t wholly, supporting Australia. Obviously, this might be unique to those I’ve spoken to, but just thought it was interesting. Portugal, Germany, England, Spain … even Peru. So many of my friends are supporting other teams. And really, only one is from one of those countries.

      Sorry if this was a little off topic by the way.

      • June 14th 2018 @ 9:00am
        Onside said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        I reckon this is the magic of the game in a multi national society like Australia.

        Football supporters are part of something far bigger than local competitions.

        This is highlighted when elite players who play in a National in say Europe, go
        home and represented their own country .

      • June 14th 2018 @ 10:01am
        fadida said | June 14th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        I think it’s on topic. It shows the beauty of football, just how global it is, and how far it reaches into Australia.

        It also shows the challenge, to convert all of those fans into fans of the A-league and Australian football.

      • Columnist

        June 14th 2018 @ 12:03pm
        Stuart Thomas said | June 14th 2018 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        I am also supporting Serbia as I have them in a sweep.

    • June 14th 2018 @ 8:59am
      MQ said | June 14th 2018 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      A substantial number of Australians have been following the WC for decades now, let’s stop pretending it’s some sort of secret that only a few hardy individuals follow, waking up in the middle of the night, the only ones in the world doing so.

      The question remains: is there a pay-off for the domestic league for the socceroos qualifying?

      This is now our 4th consecutive WC qualification, and if there is a pay-off for the domestic league, there’s not a lot of evidence showing it.

      But we shouldn’t be surprised by that. Of the 32 nations in the WC, about half of them have weak, financially poor domestic leagues, at least relatively speaking.

      Belgium currently has a very strong team, comprising truly world-class players, most of whom play in the major leagues of their neighours. The Belgian league is very good, don’t get me wrong, but it is dwarfed by the nearby five or six leagues.

      Unsurprisingly, things drop off again when we look across the other side of the world, such is our lot, ain’t going to change in a hurry.

      • June 14th 2018 @ 10:01am
        Nemesis said | June 14th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        Hey Grobbelaar… you’ve got a new Username for the World Cup.

        MQ. No doubt there’s a cryptic snide snipe at football hidden in the initials.. I haven’t yet worked it out. I’ll ask the Tartar concierge at the hotel if he can unravel the mystery.

        Keep up the hidden snipes & negativity. No doubt you’ve got a lot of stuff lined up & ready to “Cut & Paste” if France should give our lads a touch up.

      • June 14th 2018 @ 10:24am
        Post_hoc said | June 14th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        I don’t get the issue you are ‘worried’ about, I am certain the great Kingdom of Belgium are not worried that their very strong (and one of my favourite) teams are made up of players that are scattered across half a dozen leagues, rumours this morning that Tottenham have reached agreement with a chinese club for 30 million pounds.

        I assume all of the Players in the Belgium team learnt their football in Belgium playing in Belgium junior teams etc etc. Much the same way that Australian players did the same, (much of them in the Great Kingdom of Western Sydney ;).

        So exactly what do you think the problem should be? Our league continues to develop players that play on the world stage, what a terrible problem to have.

      • June 14th 2018 @ 10:31am
        Post_hoc said | June 14th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        Further, financially what does it mean? Well A league Clubs get a total of $1.53 million for their players appearing at the World Cup,

        Just making it the FFA will receive $10.5 million in prize money

        If we get out of the group that increases to $15.5 million. So yea it means alot back here.

      • June 14th 2018 @ 12:00pm
        Onside said | June 14th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

        The benchmark of HAL success will never be measured entirely by FIFA’s trickle down financial
        contribution to either FFA or HAL clubs, because footballs main international currency is emotion.

      • June 15th 2018 @ 12:33am
        TW said | June 15th 2018 @ 12:33am | ! Report

        Actually Japanese and South Korean fans will be waking up in the middle of the night too. Australian fans dont like to give other fans in countries in Asia the respect they deserve for being fans.

    • June 14th 2018 @ 9:03am
      Post_hoc said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      Then you have the likes of Pat Cash, basically calling the Socceroos not real men, and pumping up AFL on twitter today. Very disappointing

      • Roar Rookie

        June 14th 2018 @ 9:18am
        Waz said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        Who the hell is Pat Cash ??

        • June 14th 2018 @ 9:59am
          Post_hoc said | June 14th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

          Australian tennis Player who once won Wimbledon, a notoriously heavy contact male sport

          • Roar Rookie

            June 14th 2018 @ 1:29pm
            Waz said | June 14th 2018 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

            Played by “real men” like John McEnroe whi famously whinged about everything, real men indeed 😂

            • June 14th 2018 @ 1:59pm
              AGO74 said | June 14th 2018 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

              and modern day warriors like Bernard Tomic. Or is he another word that starts with ‘w’ that I’m thinking of?

      • June 14th 2018 @ 12:40pm
        Fadida said | June 14th 2018 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

        Read this article. Half way down he talks about the “soccer haters”, born of a fear of the game, feeling threatened by a “foreign” game, fear that turns to hate.

        Pat Cash and his ilk and the dinosaurs in the Australian media to a tee. If the game isn’t Astrayan and involves manly, heroic body contact, with courage not seen since WW2 then it’s not a real game.

      • Roar Guru

        June 14th 2018 @ 2:28pm
        Matt H said | June 14th 2018 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

        It was really strange. He doesn’t even get in the media for tennis these days.

        • June 14th 2018 @ 4:30pm
          lunchboxexpert said | June 14th 2018 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

          Just someone trying to be heard by saying something to get a reaction.

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