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Opinion

Why football needs to be a winter sport

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Roar Rookie
1st June, 2021
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Let’s break down why football needs to be a winter sport with numbers.

Firstly, let’s start with the average attendance for the A-League, NRL and AFL.

Season A-League NRL AFL
2005-06/2006 11,628 16,484 36,412
2006-07/2007 14,034 16,577 38,108
2007-08/2008 15,348 16,321 38,287
2008-09/2009 12,963 17,098 37,760
2009-10/2010 10,444 17,367 38,423
2010-11/2011 8805 17,243 36,428
2011-12/2012 10,819 17,346 32,748
2012-13/2013 12,658 16,643 33,461
2013-14/2014 13,479 16,798 33,680
2014-15/2015 13,048 16,155 33,367
2015-16/2016 12,706 16,057 33,163
2016-17/2017 12,650 15,704 35,207
2017-18/2018 10,926 16,206 36,687
2018-19/2019 10,877 15,800 36,317
2019-20/2020 8617 3851 7767
2020-21/2021 5665 12,959 27,880
Average 11,541 15,538 33,480

Let’s calculate the bounce back after last year’s poor seasons.

AFL crowds this year are 76 per cent of what they were in 2019. NRL crowds are 82 per cent and A-League crowds are just 52 per cent.

If the A-League had retained 82 per cent of their average attendance like the NRL has, the average crowd would be 8927. That’s 3262 more people than the current A-League season average of 5665.

So that is a drop of 3262 fans in a winter format. Let’s say a GA ticket costs $25, so 3262 less fans at $25 each equals $81,500 loss per home game.

For 12 home games, that is around $1 million less a year. Can the A-League clubs sustain that? That’s not nothing in today’s climate.

As a side note, the drop from 15,348 in the 2007-08 season to 10,887 in 2018-19 did happen in summer.

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This can be due to numerous factors such as the form of Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney, for example, as their attendances have gone down.

Melbourne Victory fans

(Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Very few of the world’s top leagues are played in summer. And only a handful play in average temperatures above 20 degrees.

Australia is the hottest summer league in the world. I get that we like to be battlers but let’s not make our league the most difficult in the world from a temperature perspective.

Australia (27.5) leads China (24.5), Korea (24), USA (22), Armenia (21), Japan (20), New Zealand (19), Scotland (16), Norway (15.5), Iceland (13) and Denmark (12).

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Football needs to grow through the technical side so it can compete with streaming other international football leagues first of all.

At the moment the A-League is the hottest summer league in the world. Ideally, it than needs to align with the upcoming national second division to bring all the NPL and ex-NSL clubs under the one banner.

At the moment the only other professional outdoor team sport played on a pitch in summer in Australia is cricket. That says it all.

But an extra $1 million loss a year for teams can be very serious. However, it has been proven that the A-League in winter is faster as per the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Before the A-League went into hiatus in March, only two teams had more than 14 passes per minute of possession with four teams below 13. After the restart in July, six teams had more than 14 passes per minute, some close to 15, while no teams were below 13.”

So the entire standard of the league increased from two teams to all teams.

This does seem like a hard choice for the A-League clubs, who have already invested so much. But if there is talk of salary caps coming off, wouldn’t that also recruit bigger names and draw bigger crowds in winter?

Wouldn’t more international coaches come to the A-League so they can implement winter systems of football such as City’s 90-minute press?

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I don’t think anyone can press for 90 minutes in summer. Wouldn’t this lead to a higher quality product on the field and bring the fans back?

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