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Gary Andrews

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Joined February 2017

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Gary Andrews is a writer and podcaster who made the move to Australia from the UK like many before him. He primarily supports Exeter City, Exeter Chiefs and strong caffeine that keeps him going during late nights and early mornings spent watching sport across the globe.

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Nemesis, I suspect if we discussed this over a beer we’d find plenty of common ground.

A few bits to try and answer (as you say, there’s a lot here):

Hi Gary, you’ve raised a lot of points in that reply & I’ll attempt to address each point.

1) It’s unlikely that Telstra & KayoSport (or OptusSport) will ever release viewing data because it serves no purpose for them to do so. Investors/shareholder & their bankers/lenders are not interested in viewing numbers and, if anything, releasing the data weakens their negotiating power when the next broadcast rights are put to tender.

Yeah, would agree with that. I suspect from the A League it’s not hugely high though.

2) If you’re a casual sports fan you’ll probably keep Kayo 12 months of the year because you casually watch all sports. I’m not a casual sports fan. I only subscribe to Kayo for Aleague so I cancelled my subscription at the end of H&A season. All the finals were on 10Bold. I doubt casual sports fans watch Aleague. Why would they? There’s nothing in the Aleague to keep casual sports fans excited, other than the Grand Final.

I suspect you’re a bit atypical of a Kayo subscriber, but I’d wager the majority of Kayo’s 300,000+ subscribers don’t subscribe solely for the A League. Again, though, I don’t disagree that the regular season doesn’t have much to keep people engaged – even if I thought some of the individual games in the season just gone were some of the most entertaining I’ve seen in recent seasons.

3) The Aleague audience will grow if we give the football community a reason to engage with the competition. This means opening up the competition to all clubs via Promotion & Relegation. The average viewing won’t increase, but the number of people viewing over the Top 2 Division will be far greater than just 12 clubs in 1 Division.

Yes, I’d agree with this. I’d also include the grassroots game in here. There’s a lot of players of the game at junior level.

4) Social media doesn’t limit the audience. PayTV limits the audience because 70% of Aussies reject PayTV and they’ve always rejected it for the past 25 years. By contrast Youtube/Facebook/Twitter reaches nearly 100% of Aussies. And the younger demographic is more likely to engage with LiveStreaming than linear FTA TV

Younger demographic yes, and agree on the PayTV limitations. But just because a vast number of Australians are on social media, it doesn’t mean they’re going to tune into football. If anything, it has the potential to push the game further to the margins.

5) Conversion doesn’t work. We’ve tried to convert fans for 14 years, and all it’s done is alienate the traditional football community. The new independent A-League needs to focus purely on engaging the hard-core football fans. The ones who get up in the middle of the night to watch footabll. The ones who play the game. The ones who live & breathe the Game. Once we’ve engaged all of these people, we can then set our sights on trying to win over people who hate the Game because there’s not enough goals, they don’t like offside, the players are weak, etc etc.

This is a much larger conversation! I don’t think it’s a binary decision of converting people who hate the game – they’re at the one extreme of the scale. But there’s plenty of people in between who wouldn’t describe themselves as football fans but may tune into a Socceroos game or the Grand Final. Again, a whole conversation about how we bring back in the hard core fans alienated, but at some point you’ll need to expand the game beyond this audience.

Should the FFA Cup move to broadcasting on social media?

Hi Waz,

So what’s the solution? If you take that last line – they generally don’t want to watch an entire match – to its logical conclusion, it suggests we should pack up and go home because there’s no audience to watch games. It feels a bit defeatist.

I do totally agree that the viewing landscape is changing rapidly. But that’s a big statement to say they don’t want FTA or STV and I’m not sure the data backs that up. Kayo subscriptions are over 300,000 according to a Roy Morgan report this week. Last year 3.4m tuned into the Socceroos v France. The Matildas attracted an audience in excess of the A League Grand Final. All of which were more than Kayo’s total subscriber base. And other sports top the FTA ratings – even if there is a steady decline in audiences overall. But not enough to suggest that it should be discarded completely.

Similarly, moving to streaming only moves football from having access to a wide if casual audience to one that is potentially larger on paper but tends to be smaller when the numbers are counted. Typically, the deals seem to be a little better for the social networks than the game.

I don’t disagree that the FFA and the A League should be thinking beyond standard TV as part of their long term strategy. But that’s only valid if they have a product to sell – which means in the short term, the game still needs reach. And in the short term that still means factoring TV into the mix.

Should the FFA Cup move to broadcasting on social media?

Hi Nemesis, think we’re coming at slightly different points of the argument here – although I don’t disagree with a lot of what you’ve written, especially around the Kayo and Telstra viewing figures that are unlikely to be released any time soon (anybody from Kayo or Telstra fancy giving us some insight?).

The way I’m looking at it isn’t necessarily Foxtel’s business model or subscriptions vs pay TV – the former is… troubled; the latter raises interesting questions about ease of cancelling (ie if you’re a casual football fan but are fanatical about union or AFL, would you keep your Kayo subscription during the close season?).

But to flip question a different way: what’s actually going to grow the audience for the game? It’s not people who’ve tuned in for 30 seconds on a streaming service, no matter whether they’ve paid for a subscription.

And while Kayo is hardly going to drop any sports or competitions now, it will get the data that tells them whether it’s worth sticking with. Netflix’s more ruthless recent cancelling spree is a sign of how this could pan out.

And if 10 has cropped criticism for sticking the matches on 10 Bold with minimum promotion, how will casual fans find games that require a bit more effort to hunt down the live stream? By rushing to embrace social platforms, are we actually limiting our audience and tacitly saying football is a more minority interest.

There’s no doubt TV viewing IS changing (future trends of media and audience fragmentation is something I work with day in day out) but I’m not sure the landscape is at a stage where football can afford to dispense with traditional viewing models and broadcast altogether. By all means strategise for the future but not at the expense of the here and now.

That said, the FFA Cup is probably one competition that it’s worth experimenting with, as there’s not too much to lose in the early rounds. May be a bit of an own goal to not have the semis and final on TV though.

One last point. I realise that Roar readers are super involved and probably not representative of the wider, more casual audience for football in this country. We’re the ones who will take out a Kayo subscription solely for the A League. We’re probably not the people the FFA / Kayo / FOXTEL / YouTube / Twitter / whoever needs to convert from casual fans into full time fans.

Should the FFA Cup move to broadcasting on social media?

Thanks Bill. Hopefully you’ll get to visit Champion Hill at some point – it’s a cracking ground. Imperial Fields, where they’re now playing, is nice enough but doesn’t hold the atmosphere quite as well.

The extraordinary story of Dulwich Hamlet, the football club Rio Ferdinand is trying to save from closure

Football clubs have a very interesting relationship with local councils in London, especially when it comes to property development. The land is prime real estate and when you consider London’s population rose by 1.7m people between 1997 and 2016, and the Mayor’s office estimate an extra 66,000 homes per year are needed, you can understand why these are valuable pieces of land. Dulwich and Millwall both sit inside Zone 2, which is prime real estate area and potentially some of the most valuable land in the capital.

Southwark have been largely supportive of Dulwich Hamlet as a club and acknowledge the value of having the club in the borough (although there are local elections coming soon, which could have helped sharpen their minds even further).

Millwall sit under Lewisham Council boundaries, who have a completely different attitude and there’s some interesting links between councillors and property developers. If you’ve not already, I can really recommend Barney Ronay’s excellent reporting on Millwall in The Guardian, which has done as much as anything to help keep the The New Den.

The extraordinary story of Dulwich Hamlet, the football club Rio Ferdinand is trying to save from closure

Funnily enough, I think we’re both arguing the same point here, but from different angles. I don’t think Sydney dominated the Victory game at all. What I did see was a Victory side who were set up to spoil Sydney’s game, but struggled when it came to implementing a plan beyond stopping the opposition. And I’m not sure Sydney quite deserved that respect. As soon as they went 1-0 up, it was inevitable they would drop deep. Had it not been for the own goal, I think 0-0 would have been a fair result in that game.

Are Sydney FC getting too much respect from the opposition?

Ha! Last season, there was definitely swashbuckling. This season there’s been a bit of swash and a bit of buckling but the two haven’t quite come together.

Are Sydney FC getting too much respect from the opposition?

Hi Nemesis,

Thanks for commenting. Apologies about the Troisi comment – I was more referring to the fact that Victory have struggled this season. But yes, could have been clearer.

Interesting you’ve read this as a cheerleading piece. I’ve actually not been overly impressed with Sydney this season, and I’m honestly not sure if it’s because they haven’t got out of first gear or the opposition is paying them too much respect. I’d tend towards the latter, and I’m really fascinated to see how they handle a side that really goes for it against them, as I don’t think they’ve been tested yet. They’re certainly looked shakier without Vukovic.

Re: the Victory games, I honestly saw Muscat’s tactics as trying to stifle Sydney rather than play a more natural game – it only worked up to a point. Both games were a pretty turgid spectacle though.

I’d agree the Wanderers were good in the first half v Sydney – as the piece says, I thought they had their tactics spot on, albeit helped with very generous defending from Sydney (which last season I don’t think the Sky Blues would have conceded – maybe that’s down to a different goalkeeper…). But the Wanderers only had two shots on target during the game, and retreated a little in the second half to hang on for the lead, which again was a little more respect than perhaps Sydney deserved that day, as they were pretty poor in the first half.

I agree there’s an issue with attendances at Sydney – and across most of the A League, but that’s a different topic for a different day. Every game I’ve been to at the Allianz this season, though, hasn’t exactly been a vintage performance. Second half v the Wanderers was probably the best of the bunch.

Are Sydney FC getting too much respect from the opposition?

Hi Waz, I’ve have to every Sydney FC home game this season and watched every away game. I should probably update my bio though.

Are Sydney FC getting too much respect from the opposition?

Words that I never thought I’d read on The Roar: “For me that team is Exeter City.” We’re few and far between in the UK, let alone Down Under (most people here look blankly when I say who I support).

I grew up 20 minutes out of Exeter, got into football in 1990 when we won the old 4th division – people ask me who my Premier League team is, expecting me to answer. I don’t have one. I enjoy watching the Premier League but couldn’t imagine watching them (although given Bournemouth and Swansea were both recently at our level, anything’s possible).

That said, I do have very soft spots for other teams. Living in London for 10 years meant that it wasn’t feasible to watch Exeter week in week out, so a few of us used to watch Hampton & Richmond Borough in non-league quite regularly and I’d probably consider myself a semi-supporter (no split loyalties if we ever met each other). I think quite a few people who move to London end up picking a non-league team. I’d also quite regularly watch Tooting & Mitcham or Carshalton Athletic as they were close to where I live.

I’ve been watching the A League since 2013, knowing I’d be moving to Sydney at some point, and quickly became a Sydney FC supporter through my in-laws. I wouldn’t say I’ve switched sides – I still stay up late to watch Exeter City streams at midnight – but I think I’m safe in supporting both sides, as I can’t ever conceive of a time these two would come into contact with each other.

Incidentally, interesting choice of Swansea, as Exeter and Swansea have quite a history, albeit very friendly. It was between us and them on the final day of the 2003 season when we got relegated out of the League and Swansea survived. Our manager, Paul Tisdale came very close to joining Swansea in around 2012. And obviously City are Trust owned and Swansea’s recent success to reach the Premier League was heavily built on their Supporters’ Trust.

Is it ever okay to change teams?

To be honest, Crawley probably don’t register too much on many British football fans’ radars these days as well. And tearing sporting heroes down is definitely a prime sport for the UK as well. If the Ashes didn’t go ahead this year, it could have been an alternative competition between the two countries.

But yes, you’re right, few people in Australia will be overly au fait with the conditions he’s working within. Hopefully this piece gives a little more insight. He has a bit of cash, and a few half decent players, but it’s a very challenging environment for any manager to head into, let alone a rookie of Kewell’s stature.

I had Crawley down as relegation favourites for 2017-18 before Kewell was appointed. Sadly, while I’d love him to succeed, my view hasn’t changed thus far.

Why Kewell's managerial career shouldn't be judged on his winless start at Crawley

It was a leftfield appointment and in both the UK and Australia there does seem an expectation he won’t succeed.

The players he has at his disposal are… varied to limited. To describe Crawley as having any particular kind of playing style over recent seasons would be charitable. There are a few players who would be coveted by other sides in the division – Joe McNerney is a solid centre-half, Andre Blackman is a talented if erratic left back and Dean Cox, who has struggled for game time under Kewell for reasons unknown, is a talented, tricky winger who plenty of other sides would be keen on.

Fans don’t seem too enamoured by Kewell’s signings thus far – and he has added half a dozen or so – but this isn’t a side that anybody would be expecting to challenge at the top end of the table.

Why Kewell's managerial career shouldn't be judged on his winless start at Crawley

Good debate here. I can see where Kewell was coming from with his recent comments – the A League has something of a history of players moving abroad, struggling for game time and returning to the comfort of a professional league, and it’s not unfair to suggest that’s it’s a slightly different landscape than when Kewell was a teenager. There’s also a separate debate of whether young Australian players are leaving for Europe before they’re ready (although Kewell himself was clearly ready at 15). I know that debate has graced The Roar’s pages before and will no doubt do so again.

I don’t think anybody would doubt his commitment to the Socceroos though, or Australia.

Why Kewell's managerial career shouldn't be judged on his winless start at Crawley

Kewell certainly talks a good game, but there’s definitely a lapse into cliche. The jury’s out on whether he’s cut out for management, especially after his spell with Watford U23s.

While I think it would be a brave club that takes on a manager who has failed in League 2 in England, I suspect there’s a few A League clubs who would consider him worth a punt on his standing in Australian soccer. And he may find his feet in Australia versus what is, to be generous, a very challenging first managerial role. It’s a big may though.

Why Kewell's managerial career shouldn't be judged on his winless start at Crawley

It’s a really good point Waz, and definitely one I considered. I know Maclaren is a little maligned for the number of chances he fails to covert versus those he puts away, but 20 goals is no bad return in any league – imagine if he could actually finish!

I think you’re spot on when you say Maclaren would have benefitted from Maccarone in the squad, and if anything this signing is a season to late. As it is, you have a striker who has never exactly prolific away from Empoli and a 19-year-old with a lot of promise but still learning the ropes.

As you say, goals were a problem for Brisbane last season, and that could continue into 2017/18.

I don’t think Maccarone’s risk is necessarily based on age – although that has to be factored in – but more from his history of starting well and then fading. Or simply never getting started at all. Plus he’s never been entirely comfortable when up against more physical teams.

I’m not entirely sure he’s the right signings for The Roar at this stage, although would love to be proved wrong. I also thought John Aloisi would struggle at Brisbane but he’s started to build quite an interesting team, so shows what I know! I’d be surprised if Brisbane were title challenges this season though. Solidly into the finals, yes, and probably the best of the rest.

Cult hero Maccarone is risky business for Brisbane Roar

While I’d agree Maccarone will be very different to Maclaren, it’s still a huge risk to replace a 20 goal striker with one that’s hardly prolific and occasionally struggles with physical sides.

He’ll definitely add a lot of experience and help for younger players, but whether he’s worth a marquee slot is another question.

Cult hero Maccarone is risky business for Brisbane Roar

I think video refs are sadly inevitable, but a lot depends on how you use them. I like rugby union’s prescriptive questions the ref asks the TMO: “Try, yes or no?” “Is there any reason I cannot award a try?”. It doesn’t always work (England v South Africa in the World Cup Final being a classic example) but more often than not the right call is made.

Where I have more of an issue is with the flow of the game and how to deploy. If Beath didn’t think it was a foul at the time, he wouldn’t have blown up. If he wasn’t sure, then when would he refer the decision to the VAR without taking the intensity and flow out of what was quite a climax to the game? And given how many potential penalty calls there were, how do you ensure if don’t become so stop-start as a sport you may NFL look positively speedy?

Will video assistance fix the A-League's refereeing mistakes?

I definitely wouldn’t say the cap is the only thing keeping the League competitive, but I do understand why it is in place. When you have a young league with a small number of clubs, it needs careful management and it’s understandable why the FFA established it.

There will be a time, probably after a few expansions, where the cap can be substantially altered or scrapped. Currently, though, it could use some tweaking to evolve where the league evolves.

Interestingly, the Football League in England is starting to get a little hotter on their own salary caps. It doesn’t act as a complete deterrent but it probably has pulled in some of the more wilder excesses of Championship and League One clubs.

Adelaide United's decline is a problem for the whole of the A-League

I would agree with this. There are plenty of individual clubs around the world who go through a high turnover of players, but it’s quite unusual in a league to see the majority of clubs lose such a significant number of players each year.

Typically, a club that’s had an off-season of a revolving door policy can take a while for new signings to gel or, in extreme cases like Adelaide, go backwards.

The only league I can immediately think of where its common place is in the non-league game in England, and that’s not really comparable.

Adelaide United's decline is a problem for the whole of the A-League

Hi Swanny, I totally agree.

The last thing the A League needs is a system like Scotland, or some other leagues across Europe, where one team dominates. Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet, although Victory and Sydney are both well poised to dominate should circumstances arise.

I also agree the salary cap should stay in the immediate and mid-term future – to remove would be suicidal for Australian football. That said, when you have teams constantly turning over a high level of players and can go from champions to wooden spoon in less than 12 months, it also causes issues.

I certainly wouldn’t advocate a removal of salary cap currently, but I think there are nuanced reforms you can make.

Adelaide United's decline is a problem for the whole of the A-League