Just when you think the FFA might have figured out why fans watch football, they turn around and announce plans to play music during A-League matches.
A lot of insiders whose opinion I value have told me Greg O’Rourke is a smart guy. Why, then, has he just made such an unfathomably dumb announcement?
According to a report posted on The World Game last night, the A-League is considering playing music while the ball is in play.
“Fans wanted more pre-game entertainment, more in-game entertainment and more at half-time,” O’Rourke told AAP in a jaw-dropping statement that did the rounds yesterday.
“Football globally has about 30 minutes when the ball is stopped or out of play. Some of those gaps can be filled.”
My first question is: which fans?
Because I’d love to know exactly who came away from an A-League game last season and said: “what this league really needs is some music during corners”.
Was it you? Because it wasn’t me.
If I ever received an email asking me how to create a better atmosphere inside an A-League stadium, I’d delete it as quickly as all my other junk mail, then wonder if the organisation that sent it should really be in charge of a football league.
And that’s what makes O’Rourke’s inexplicable suggestion so problematic.
There has long been a perception that executives in charge of Football Federation Australia know nothing about football.
So what do they do on the verge of arguably the most important A-League season yet? They make a statement that suggests they know nothing about football!
Who are these people who can’t possibly go the 20-second period between the ball going out of play and the goalkeeper punting the goal-kick up-field without being assaulted by some inane pop song?
Are they Big Bash League fans? Because I played representative-level cricket as a kid, but I won’t bother attending a Twenty20 fixture any time soon since it has nothing to do with real cricket.
If I go to a football game, I go to watch football. If I want to hear some terrible pop tunes, I’ll listen to commercial radio.
And the idea that A-League clubs might attract a new audience by playing music in play is so preposterous it simply beggars belief.
Here’s a thought. How about actually advertising the competition?
Instead of making a playlist, why not make an ad that says: “hey football fans, the A-League kicks off again on October 19”.
Want to improve the match day experience? Why not sit down with stadium staff from every A-League venue and advise them of what to expect at the football?
Heck, why not just sign some more marquee players? Slash ticket prices? Or maybe think of a way to shorten the world’s longest off-season?
No, all of these things are apparently too hard. With only 168 days between seasons to come up with something plausible, let’s just drown out whatever atmosphere the fans produce by blasting music through the public announcement system.
Even the rest of FFA’s blueprint reveals exactly what they think of their customers.
Safe smoke from controlled flares? World Cup-style fan zones? They want to take control from supporter groups and make sure it stays in their own hands.
If nothing else, you could argue that at least there’s some acknowledgement that crowds and atmospheres inside A-League venues have dipped alarmingly.
But having alienated so many bona fide football fans, it’s hard to see how trying to replace them with families transfixed by the whizz-bang of the BBL is going to solve anything.
Any fan groups drowned out by music being played through the PA system should simply walk out the first time it happens.
The FFA have finally realised they need to work to win over fans. Trouble is, for the umpteenth time, they’re targeting the wrong ones.