What He Didn’t Say

May 13, 2013 at 7:43 pm Leave a comment

There is one code of football we rarely mention on this site, or on the show, but in light of the comments made by a man who is highly respected in Australian sport we felt we had to on this occasion.

There is no doubt that AFL coach Kevin Sheedy has opened a hornet’s nest with his comments over the weekend after Greater Western Sydney Giants could only attract  5,830 people to its home match against Adelaide Crows, an all time low crowd not seen in AFL since 1996.

For those who missed his poor attempt at an explanation for such a poor crowd he said that his club lacked ‘the recruiting officer called the immigration department recruiting fans for the West Sydney Wanderers’.

His comments apart from being highly offensive to the inhabitants of Western Sydney will have in fact done his future crowd projections even more harm, but they also say so much more.

Three sports went head to head in Western Sydney, Rugby League, Football and AFL. All three codes invested heavily in this market and it became like a race to the North pole, the code that could boast success first it was felt would hold the keys to being the number one sport in Australia in the next 5-10  years. Of the three codes Football and the AFL are believed to have invested the most, although neither code is willing to reveal exactly how much their push for ascendancy has cost.

One thing is for sure AFL never expected Western Sydney Wanderers to take off the way it did, and Sheedy’s comments reflect that. He would have been led to believe that his club and his code would be the number one sport in that region. It won’t be, it will most likely never rise higher than third in the pecking order between these three codes. Football’s success lies purely and simply in the fact that it is a world game, and no matter what country you come from this one or overseas you can relate to it; and are more likely to have played it at some stage in your life. Rugby League is second to none when it comes to involving the community and that is why they build loyalty. They will not splash the money the way AFL and Football have but rest assured with time they will grow a loyal supporter base.

For years AFL’s monitoring of its participation rates have been skewed, a result of not only counting regular registered participants in their participation numbers, as per Football and Rugby League. If all codes were forced to monitor participation figures the same way Sheedy’s angst may be better explained. One thing is for sure his comments show that in Western Sydney the battle of the codes is well and truly being lost, and we would hazard a guess outside of Victoria although not as apparent, at junior levels the same would be true.

You only have to stand outside of Subiaco oval on a match day to see the age of the supporters filing in and how large a percentage are female to know that the youth of Australia are focussed on other sports. The times are definitely changing and that realisation has finally hit Mr Sheedy, which may explain his ill advised comments.

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Fans Can Finally Have a Say That’s Another Fine Mess You Got Me Into

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