When the two new A-League teams were announced back in December, someone suggested on The Roar that Adelaide deserved a second team. I replied saying that Perth deserves one more than Adelaide and I was verbally bashed!
Sixteen teams is a likely number for the A-League before the possibility of a second division may arrive. Today, I work out how a second A-League team in the city I live in, Perth, would work.
The bid of the recent expansion process out of WA was from NPL 2 club, Fremantle City. They were led by club president Maurice Oteri and planned to have links with Serie A club Juventus.
Linking with an Italian club is always something that can be considered as the whole of Australia has a very large Italian community. They also planned to have a government funded Fremantle Oval re-development to transform it into a 15,000 seat boutique (a bit cliché!) stadium.
The bid sounded like a good idea but it was just in the wrong location. The main reasoning is that the most popular sports team in WA is the West Coast Eagles, and Fremantle are their rivals.
I hate to start mentioning AFL in a football article but this was the issue for old Victorian NSL club Carlton SC, who not only had the name of the AFL club, but also the colours and stadium, and they were “Sister clubs”. They struggled to gain attendances and fans because of the links and name, and they believed that fans of other AFL clubs wouldn’t support the club.
A football example of this is the recent situation when Melbourne Heart decided to accept a purchase from the City Football Group (the same company that owns Manchester City) and would rename themselves Melbourne City. Many Heart fans decided to stop supporting the club as they were fans of other EPL clubs.
In WA, West Coast Eagles fans definitely will not be jumping on the bandwagon of a club named Fremantle.
If WA wants a second A-League team, it has to be in a different place.
The big cultural rivalry in WA is the one between the North and South of the Swan River. You look at Telethon and they have a competition as to which side of the river can donate the most money. It is a big thing.
The FFA can cash in by being the first sports team in the state to have one team north of the Swan River and one team south of the Swan River.
A lot of people are saying that clubs like South Melbourne should be let into the A-League because of national or tribal passion (in this case Greek) which would enable a lot of people who don’t follow football, but have heritage in that nation, to support that club.
This would be the same here because the North River and South River is a rivalry already, you’ll have the people engaged in that rivalry plus people crying out for another team equalling a good team.
For me, the new team would be North of the river. This information is from 2009 but, at that time, the North River had just over 100,000 people more than the South. While the city’s current A-League team can also cover the regional areas of Mandurah, Bunbury and Albany. When combined those three have a population of about 150,000.
Name? How about something like the North River Swans, North Swan FC or North Swan Athletic? They could wear black and white to represent the colours of the black swans that live in the river. The team could play in what you could call WA’s second CBD, Joondalup.
The only issue with this is that the Perth Glory’s home ground, HBF Park, is located slightly north of the river. But I’ll explain what can be done in another article.
Now before you post a comment saying something like “Seriously Jordan, the Perth Glory are top of the league and they are only averaging 9,500 a game”, here is something you probably haven’t thought of and that I hadn’t either, until a few days ago.
Every team that is a second team in its city, such as Melbourne City or Western Sydney Wanderers, has had a lower average overall attendance than their big brother or older club (being Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC respectively). Melbourne City’s overall average attendance is higher than the Perth Glory’s, but not this season.
Melbourne City, at the time of writing, are averaging 8,923 this season, while the Perth Glory are averaging 9,513. The first-place badge might be a factor for the Glory’s good attendances but judging by history, the new Western United will have a lower attendance than Melbourne City.
The same would apply for a second Perth team but it would still have more chance of getting better attendances than the new Western United.
If Perth gets a second team, will it be successful? The formula I have will have to be used. I hope to see the battle of the river happen some-time soon.