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

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist since December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (82)

    • July 20th 2018 @ 7:39am
      Kangas said | July 20th 2018 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Aside from Usain Bolt , what if the mariners could get transfer fees for the other A league clubs poaching their juniors . Lachlan Wales to Melbourne City being the latest example.

      Why would an A league club bother having academy.

      Hopefully the mariners sign Bolt for a few pre season games and if nothing comes of it , so what

      If he is actually ok , then ccm can make some money

      Most of the critics on this page support big city clubs and seem indifferent to anything outside of Sydney and Melbourne, well if the A league wants to remain fully professional and not part time it needs to embrace a few other regional teams and create some entertainment.

      This bolt pre season hype is far more interesting then Royston Griffiths coming back for his 5 th attempt at A league age 30 , that kind of signing creates insomnia.

      • July 20th 2018 @ 8:02am
        cruyff turn said | July 20th 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        Kangas,

        I agree that there should be transfer fees between A-League clubs, so that clubs like the Mariners get some return on their investment.

        That being said, there’s nothing stopping the Mariners from making a better pitch to their young players, or creating the conditions so that they don’t want to leave. You use the example of Lachlan Wales going to City. I would imagine his chances at getting first team football this coming season would have been far greater at the Mariners than at a talent-laden City?

        • Roar Rookie

          July 20th 2018 @ 11:12am
          At work said | July 20th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

          And we’re in a salary capped league so what is City really offering Lachlan Wales that CCM can’t?

          • Roar Rookie

            July 20th 2018 @ 11:30am
            Waz said | July 20th 2018 @ 11:30am | ! Report

            It’s what CFG offer, not City.

    • July 20th 2018 @ 7:52am
      cruyff turn said | July 20th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      Mike, ANY type of marketing and publicity is NOT what the Mariners most need. Should they seek attention, at the expense of their brand and integrity?

      I’ve been following this story over this last week, checked fan forums and so on, and it seems very few Mariners fans are behind the idea. They don’t want to see their team become a circus act. And one of the golden rules of business, along with of course making a profit, is never violate the expectations of your core customers.

      What they need is to get back to what they had earlier this decade: a great team culture with a blend of quality youth and experience, which ultimately translated into on-field success. That is what will bring the fans back, as well as respect.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 20th 2018 @ 8:17am
        Waz said | July 20th 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        I agree with the sentiments of your post and, like Mike says we shouldn’t complain about marketing just because we believe it’s the “wrong type of marketing”, but Mariners need to be close to fans on this one and proceed with extreme caution. It’s a risk for mariners, not the competition as a whole.

        The comment “They don’t want to see their team become a circus act“ is a bit too late, Mariners already are a circus act – Tony Walmsley and “moneyballs” were the opening act!

        • Columnist

          July 20th 2018 @ 8:28am
          Mike Tuckerman said | July 20th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

          I have to be honest and point out there’s a big part of me that thinks Bolt won’t get anywhere near a Mariners contract, let alone an actual football.

          I’m cautious of the constant stream of sugar hits, but the problem is that simply relying on football fundamentals – like the Mariners have done in the past – isn’t getting fans through the gate. There are myriad reasons for that, but this season more than any other the A-League needs a circuit breaker, so I think we have to be willing to try some new ideas instead of just standing idly by while clubs circle the drain.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 20th 2018 @ 8:56am
            Waz said | July 20th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

            I’m with you on that. I do though think any final decision will be Charlesworth’s and not Mulvey’s

            The fundamental issues with the competition will not be addressed through this (nor signing Torres or Honda) but equally, they won’t get worse.

            Mariners will do this if Charlesworth can make money out of this. That’s the business side of this, the football is secondary.

      • July 23rd 2018 @ 8:26pm
        James said | July 23rd 2018 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

        At this point caring about the current core fans too much wont help the team. Five thousand fans is not enough to allow the team to exist in any meaningful way. They cant afford to be dicks to the fans but they need more fans, the current ones are not enough and what they are doing so far isnt enough. Bolt is almost a hail mary

    • July 20th 2018 @ 7:59am
      AGO74 said | July 20th 2018 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      There’s a bit of a constant theme of “sky is falling in” with Australian football fans. Not always – but it’s usually not too far away from the surface.

      I’m not convinced on the Bolt trial but I’m not against it either. If he genuinely has the capability then why not?

      If any country should appreciate cross code athletes it’s Australia given how often they have occurred across all the major sporting codes here and not just in similar sports (league:union) but also other sports which have no real relationship (the American college football – or was it basketball? – player who plays for Collingwood). Football ironically is probably the only one that hasn’t been affected by this cross code. My only hope is that if Bolt does earn a contract that it is on merit. If it’s not then we are going down a path I’d rather not go.

      Not familiar with the Roar marketing you reference Mike but it sounds like they are having a go. Good on them. You won’t please everyone but as you say it’s better than not having a go.

    • July 20th 2018 @ 8:21am
      shirtpants said | July 20th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      I really don’t see the issue with offering a trial. I also think it would be a different conversation if it was Sydney FC who were involved and not CCM.
      We do an awful job of promoting the league, particularly for a season launch. Now the majority of people at least roughly know when it’ll start.

      • July 20th 2018 @ 2:47pm
        Aethelbert said | July 20th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

        I agree, there would be a lot more petty people lining up to stick the boot in if it were Sydney FC.

    • July 20th 2018 @ 8:55am
      Buddy said | July 20th 2018 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      On the one hand we regularly complain about lack of marketing, publicity and missed opportunities from governing bodies, and clubs alike and then we beat ourselves up over a headline or two that gets the A League talked about at a time of the year when the silence is deafening. We marvel at countries with relatively small populations performing really well at world Cups and other tournaments but don’t really look beyond and search out the why’s and wherefores. From grassroots upwards we find it difficult to attract sponsorship and money invested in the game so why “look a gift horse” regional clubs down to grassroots do it tough so make the most of it………circus or not.

    • July 20th 2018 @ 8:58am
      MQ said | July 20th 2018 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      Re the Mariners’ plight more generally , once P&R is introduced, the Mariners would be my bet to be the first team to go down.

      At that point, we might find that Bolt is at his natural level as a footballer, and might be a great addition to the squad.

      • July 20th 2018 @ 9:59am
        punter said | July 20th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        Got to love these sweeping statements by our resident AFL fan.

        • July 20th 2018 @ 11:32am
          Fadida said | July 20th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          Funny how no one complains about a lack of P/R in AFL, and how it’s killing the game

          • July 20th 2018 @ 12:27pm
            shirtpants said | July 20th 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

            Well the standard looks great because theres nothing to compare to. AFL fans seem to be happy in their own little bubble. Mind you, the crowds kill the NRL and A League. Every sport has its strengths and weaknesses

            • July 20th 2018 @ 3:02pm
              clipper said | July 20th 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

              Titans so far are 10,788, so only slightly better than GWS and thousands less than the basket case that is the Suns. We’ll have to wait to see if GWS has the worst attendance of all codes until the end of season as they get a boost when playing the Swans at home.

              • July 21st 2018 @ 9:55am
                RandyM said | July 21st 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

                lol clipper, The Titans had to take 2 home games to towoomba and mackay which have tiny capacity stadiums, less than 10k. Didn’t the Suns get to take a home game to the new Perth stadium?

            • July 20th 2018 @ 4:14pm
              Kangas said | July 20th 2018 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

              Agree about strengths and weaknesses

              Standard of skills has decined in afl because of fitness and congestion . There killing that spectacle unfortunately.
              They need to relegate some teams .

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