When is a Crowd Not a Crowd

November 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm 6 comments

It is amazing how three of the football codes in Australia are so obsessed about revealing their crowd figures after weekend games by way of public statements rather than simply alongside a match report. Why is this?

Is it a ploy by each code in their battle to claim to be the number one football code, or is it a case of putting these statistics out there in order to attract sponsors from the corporate world?

Following Round one of this years Hyundai A-League the FFA were quick to advise that they had set a new aggregate record for a single round in the history of the competition as 100,998 fans attended the five games. This was a fantastic achievement, but one has to ask how many of these tickets were paid for? For example the following week for their first home game Perth Glory gave away 5,000 tickets; according to Football West 84% (4200) of these tickets were used to boost the final crowd to 13,856 at that game.

The question that this example raises with free tickets making up nearly one third of the total crowd, and the corporate free tickets are not included, should these figures be taken at face value? The truth is every code gives away free tickets, to boost their crowds, but maybe the paying public deserve to know just how many are being given away each week.

Many season ticket holders in each of these codes are beginning to question why they hand over their money at the start of the season and then watch more and more people turning up without having to buy a ticket. Free tickets may well give one code boasting rights over another but it could ultimately be a decision that costs them more than they anticipated. It is crucial that they look after their members, and maybe they need to look at rewarding them more.

Turning our attention back to the A-League, as the other codes are in their off season it is interesting to look at the crowds since round one. In week two the cumulative gate was 75,757 across the A-league, a drop of 25% and 25,241 individuals. That is a huge drop in just one week.

It is hard to compare with the last round as the Central Coast Mariners fixture v Wellington Phoenix has been held back until 19 December. So despite a drop from their opening crowd to their second of 8,000 we have averaged out the mariners gate for the season, which comes to 11,515. Despite their last two crowds being under 10,000 we will use this figure to give a like on like result for a cumulative crowd for round six which was completed at the weekend. Even with this figure the numbers have dropped even further. Using that average the total number of fans reported attending Hyundai A League games would be 52,576 (it was 41,061 for the four games played. This is a 31% drop on round 2 and 48% drop since round one.

This statistics must be very worrying for club owners and the FFA. Yes, the fixtures are different and teams have different appeal and rivalries, but to lose close on 50% of your fans in just six weeks is nothing short of alarming. Maybe this is close to how many free tickets were given away? We will never know, but it would help explain such a dramatic drop in such a short space of time.

To add to that alarm last weekend of the four games played just one produced a crowd of over ten thousand, and credit to the fans of Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory who achieved that in appalling weather conditions. They had a crowd of 15,854. The other three teams, Perth Glory, Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Heart all failed to pull 9,000 through the gates.

Hopefully this trend changes or club owners are going to be wondering why they bought into the game.


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A Prickly Issue The Team Must Come First

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stephen  |  November 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    The A League is a very poor standard of football and any player who returns from Europe is killing their career playing here. They will never get back overseas. Fox commentators can say what they like and pump it up as much as they like but those are the facts, and that is why fans have stopped going.

    Not to mention in the west Glory have treated fans like crap for years!!

    The Socceroos show that development has been wanting since the FFA took over, you cannot build football from the top down which they have tried, throwing millions into the Socceroos and the A-League. That money is showing it was wasted. It is going to be a very long road back.

    Also please note the Perth Glory Youth team are bottom of the ladder, great benefit playing them in the state league and losing every week. Losing is as much a habit as winning. Take note Football West!

  • 2. Not The Footy Show  |  November 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Stephen, I tend to agree with you that it will be very hard for any player who returns to get a place back in Europe, and this year there have been very few good quality games; as opposed to exciting ones.

    The key issue around the country is no club owns its ground so have little opportunity to bring in money. As a result less is spent on marketing and that affects the crowd numbers.

    These are worrying times and how clubs are going to survive or make money is going to be tough.

    Development,. I think I have aired my opinion on this subject a fair bit. I agree it will be a long road back, and probably will take 8 years, that is if we change from the path we are on now.

  • 3. Struth  |  November 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Don’t hold your breath on the the path broadening to accommodate the meandering Football Admin world who seek only Job Security and $$$$ ..
    Indeed it may be a winding path that turns back on itself …..

  • 4. EXZR  |  November 20, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Well said one and all.
    Struth, you are correct….and it looks like we are never going to learn. We need the Standing committees to take the game by the scruff of the neck, but apathy wont allow it. The CEO and Board should be insisting that Standing Committees be the decision makers

  • 5. Struth  |  November 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    So Why are the S C so inefficient in their role ?. Surely if they are Not interested it behoves the clubs, if possible, to replace and or those who get appointed start doing their job .
    It has been the role of interested in the game outsiders to point out here and on forums what ails F W and unfortunately the S C ‘s dont seem to take any notice or do not care .. Sad.

  • 6. notthefootyshow  |  November 25, 2013 at 10:12 am

    EXZR and Struth thank you for your comments.
    In my humble opinion the Standing committee’s are not representative of the clubs, but the clubs only have themselves to blame.
    They nominate the members of the standing committee, and should all vote on the representative for their area, although judging by the votes published by the AEC and conversations with clubs it would appear that they were not in fact asked to vote, only a select few were.
    By not questioning and ensuing that the processes are carried out properly they allow these to be filled with stooges and yes-men.
    EXZR – the CEO and the board should be making sure that minutes are taken at Standing committees meeting and that the representatives are in fact reporting back to the clubs they represent, that was how it was meant to work. In fact the Chair of these should be responsible for this and if they are not doing this they should not hold that position.
    The sad thing is the administration do not see their role as serving the clubs, players, coaches, referees, etc, and therefore as one stated to me, “it is not in my (their) interest for the standing committees to be functional.”
    In club land too many are only concerned with their small world rather than the bigger universe that is the game as a whole, and that narrow minded view allows the standing committees and above to operate the way they do.
    If operated the way Crawford intended everyone would be much better off.


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