Active support, ‘soccer hooligans’ and ultras. What do these terms mean to the average football supporter?
To the mainstream media, the disaster that is ‘soccer hooliganism’ in England and more recently Australia. The Western Sydney’s RBB had set an immensely high standard for active support with their elaborate tifos, exciting displays and vibrant, engaging atmosphere that pierced Parramatta Stadium as most recent as 2016.
Nowadays, the RBB is a small set of fans behind the ‘state of the art’ and contemporary Bankwest stadium.
In contrast, the Melbourne Victory’s Northern Terrace, etched in the memory of Melbourne Victory fans for years on years, providing an altruistic look into the culture that is Melbourne Victory, setting a precedent for a large majority of the A-League.
They folded at the back end of 2016. Original Style Melbourne have taken their place, restoring the void that was left by the NT.
The Sydney FC’s cove, the Red Army, the Den are all groups that have a voice to be heard and bring an atmosphere unrivalled by any Australian sporting code.
Diving into the politics that surrounds and permeates the downfall of active support is a tiresome and anguish filled period of negotiation, public scrutiny and general pessimism. There are issues that must be pertained to besides active support.
If this week in Australian football teaches the general public anything at all, it would be that the ‘sleeping giant of Australian sport’, is dying a sluggardly death.
This week, it was speculated that Hyundai, the 15-year naming rights of the A-League ever since its inception, decided not to renew their contract worth $6 million a year.
Sponsors such as ALDI, have pulled out of the mini-roos program, NAB have pulled out too and now Hyundai.
The fluctuations in metrics and attendances for the A-League has been a natural occurrence year on year but with an average attendance of 9,840 which is 1000 less than last season’s 10,877.
The free-to-air rights holders ABC, have relegated the Sydney Derby to their secondary children’s and comedy channel. There is a cause for concern here.
Is it the long season of 26 games? Is it the lack of advertising? Is it the lack of active support let alone club identity? Is it the lack of sponsorship?
Lack of second division? There are a multitude of matters that must be discussed beyond the aforementioned. With all being said, my faith is the new FFA CEO James Johnson to bring our beautiful game to a comfortable state.
He is a football man first and foremost working with FIFA and the City Football Group in the past and is a former youth Australian player. He has outlined his plans for the future which many believe to be positive.
The participation won’t die in my opinion. Football in Australia has more participants than any other sport, with communities all across Australia getting behind our local clubs. The A-League isn’t the standard of Europe’s top five leagues but with a clear vision, we can take small steps to a larger goal.
With an off season of the Copa America, the Olympics for our Olyroos and hopefully Matildas one would hope this can lead to a spike in broadcast metrics, attendances and general love for the A-League. MaCarthur FC, the new expansion side look promising with a clear identity, vision and already 1000 members on board.
Where to next for Australian football? The answer lies in the public eye and willingness to listen and be observant of others. Ultimately, we are united in our goal to make football be a larger presence in Australia