Football in Australia today is set for growth.
The speed of the growth, will come down to whether football, as a collective, develop an accepted ‘by the tribes’ plan.
Further, can people set aside their wants and beliefs?
The basics are huge, the biggest player base across all age brackets in both genders. A worldwide esport which is one of the world’s biggest sports video games.
The world game, on any given weekend, can fill over 200 stadiums across the globe. Arguably, over 50-plus players are known the world over.
Tournaments like the World Cup, Asian Cup and World Club Cup tournaments have no equal in any other sports.
Recently, I saw a chart of who is Australia’s favourite sporting team. For people over 50 it’s cricket, under 30 it’s the Socceroos while, between 30 and 50, it’s mixed.
In fact, our key demographic is under 30, and determining the best broadcast method to this group is still to be determined.
The other codes today have massive media deals and enormous coverage by the fossil media. Take away the media metrics and they are all in varying degrees of trouble.
Concussion issues with future court actions and falling players numbers are just a couple of the challenges they face. Rugby union seems to be in a death spiral, while rugby league seems to be a media product today.
Take away the media for a couple of years and league would struggle.
As football fans, we cannot ignore the influence, revenue, and systems established by the other codes. We have to use these to our own advantage.
Let’s assume something, most want a 16-team (or thereabouts) competition, with a 16-team second division, as well as promotion and relegation between the two divisions.
If this is an agreed starting point, it’s from this point we need unity, where the tribes seem to want to wage a war.
One camp argues for a full FIFA type model, where it’s open to all and, if Woy Woy (for example) have a decent run over a few years they could end up in the top division.
The other camp argues for a more MLS style system, where the 32 teams comprising both divisions are based on business metrics in a franchise system.
I don’t see a yawning gap between the two camps. Today we have nine A-League teams based in Australia. To grow to 32 teams means adding an additional 23 teams.
Put another way, 23 as a percentage of nine, is a growth rate of 256 per cent.
What needs to be understood is the answer to growing football is with regional associations and their local district park clubs.
This is where our strength lies, not with the professional teams.
Our ratings are falling, crowds struggling, memberships holding. We need eyeballs to increase revenue.
Without increasing revenue, it’s a pipe dream. Football will run at a very low level.
I said earlier, we need to understand and learn some things from the other codes and apply these to a football model.
In the past, we have tried to copy the other models rather than take from their franchise models what will help football.
As I see it, you could relabel the camps as full FIFA, and FIFA light, as having promotion and relegation is part of football’s DNA.
For me the answer lies in what will best connect the professional game to the regional associations, and then selling this to broadcasters.
We need to time limit a 32-team franchise model; with at some point in the future or reaching a certain metric that promotion and relegation can apply to the second division, which in effect would make it a full FIFA model.
My reasoning is this is what existing broadcasters want, and at least createw a conversation with the regional associations.
Essential is, at some stage, both camps coming together, as continual infighting helps no one.