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We can't demand more A-League marketing then complain when we get it

Is Usain Bolt ready for the A-League? (EPA/ANTONIO LACERDA)
Expert
19th July, 2018
82

There’s no point criticising the Central Coast Mariners for offering Usain Bolt a trial when for years the A-League has been crying out for some actual marketing.

The world’s fastest ever athlete to trial for a place in the A-League? Sounds like the dumbest gimmick since Star Wars round to me.

On a related note, here are the attendances for the last five Mariners games at Central Coast Stadium last season: 5,264 against Brisbane Roar, 7,046 against the Wanderers, 7,082 against Sydney FC and 7,604 for the final game of the season against local rivals Newcastle Jets.

Aren’t we always being told that all the A-League needs to attract fans is boutique stadia? Well it doesn’t seem to be working in Gosford.

And there’s no point lecturing Mike Charlesworth about the integrity of the A-League when his team plays in front of a sea of empty seats every fortnight.

No point wondering whether Bolt can actually play either, or if signing him might deny a young Aussie a place in professional football, if the Mariners soon cease to exist. Because that’s exactly where we’re headed.

It’s easy for keyboard warriors like me to pin the blame for Central Coast’s problems on Charlesworth, but if he can no longer afford to pay the bills, then what?

If the Mariners need an injection of cash, and a global media frenzy like we saw this week helps generate exposure, then doesn’t Bolt’s trial actually make sense?

We’re always crying out for some marketing, but then when someone actually does it, we criticise them for that as well.

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Usain Bolt men's 4x100m relay Rio 2016 Olympic Games Athletics

Is Usain Bolt ready for the A-League? (EPA/ANTONIO LACERDA)

I don’t know about anyone else, but if my air conditioner is on the fritz this summer – and hey, I live in Brisbane – I will definitely be giving ActronAir a call.

Who? They’re Brisbane Roar’s new front-of-shirt sponsor.

If you were a Roar fan you couldn’t have missed the announcement. They added a frozen filter to all their social media posts for days in the build-up to the reveal.

Didn’t like it? Too bad. Because we can’t keep carping on about how A-League clubs need to engage with their fans and then complain when they actually do.

Even better was the Roar’s video announcing the fixtures for the season.

Did it look like it cost nothing to produce? That’s probably because it didn’t.

But it generated thousands of views for a club that has been putting plenty of thought into its social media for some time now.

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Personally I hope Perth Glory smash all-comers over the first few rounds of the season. Why? Because they’re clearly focussed on football.

Tony Popovic is the new coach. The vastly experienced Tony Pignata is the new chief executive. And they’ve just signed an international-calibre back four of Jason Davidson, Matthew Spiranovic, Tomislav Mrcela and Ivan Franjic.

We might even get to see a few of them in action when the Glory take on English Premier League giants Chelsea at Optus Stadium in Perth on Monday night.

It looks like we’ll be seeing one of Asian football’s biggest stars in an A-League jersey some time soon as well, if the rumours that Melbourne Victory are on the verge of signing Keisuke Honda are true.

[latest_videos_strip category=”football” name=”Football”]

Honda is one of the most talented players to have pulled on a Samurai Blue jersey in years. He’s a genuine star, and the sort of imposing figure who can take the A-League by the scruff of its neck.

We need more of all of this – media attention, viral videos, Australian homecomings and big-name marquees – if the A-League is to succeed in what is a crucial season for the game.

And it wouldn’t hurt to send Tim Cahill off with a farewell Socceroos friendly in the next international break as well.

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Because the A-League can’t keep going the way it has been. The Bolt saga may be a circus, but at least it’s one that more than a dwindling band of diehards might actually pay to see.