Attracting A Global Audience Key to Opening Game

February 13, 2015 at 6:33 am 1 comment

It is quite laughable the reaction of the AFL affiliates and the media covering the sport in Western Australia to the news that there is a bid for the Socceroos to play England as the focal point of the New Stadium at Burswood. All it has done is show how stuck in the past they all are.

Sure a Western Derby is a big attraction in Western Australia for those who follow the code, but how does it compare to a top class international in football? That is the trouble AFL does not have a higher level than the AFL. Its hybrid games against the amateur Irish teams have an equally limited appeal as does the game itself does. Like many other national sports around the world if it is not going to catch on internationally in the first 100 years of its existence it is unlikely ever to.

We will be fed that old line that Perth is a “Football town,” a line fuelled by those with a vested interest. No city is more of a footy town than Melbourne, yet look how they embrace every sport at every level, by creating decent facilities and attracting major events. They are not so insular in their views and have now established themselves as the Sporting Capital in the country.

It is incredible to read Mr Cransberg, Chairman of the West Coast Eagles say that as the sport most likely to be the main user of the stadium they should be afforded primary consideration. Why? This stadium does not belong to the AFL it belongs to the taxpayers of Western Australia. The West Coast Eagles will merely be tenants just as will many other sports and musical acts.

Head of the WA Football Commission Gary Walton was quoted as saying, “International events come with pretty significant up-front investment where a derby will in my view guarantee a capacity crowd and it’ll come at no cost to the state.” What small minded insular thinking. It is people with attitudes such as this that hold Western Australia back.

This is supposed to be a state of the art stadium when it is completed, so why would you have as your opening event something that will only garner minimum media coverage within Australia. By hosting a top international sporting event you are immediately putting the stadium, and Perth on the world map as having a venue suitable for world class events. If England or World Champions Germany played the Socceroos you would be assured a sell out crowd. If the Wallabies played whoever lifts the Rugby World Cup at the end of this year it is just as likely to sell out, as would an Ashes Test match. The true code of Football however has to be the biggest drawcard, as it is a truly global sport. The fact is all of these sporting events played between international teams will have far more global and national appeal than a local AFL match, and anyone who says otherwise needs to get on a plane and go and experience the real world outside of Western Australia.

What is worrying is the bias and factual inaccuracies run by the West Australian Newspaper. Mark Duffield wrote that ‘the state government will, in three years time have forgiven Australian soccer officials for leaving Perth off its map of Australia when it drew up the Asian Cup Program.” Yes, they did fail to promote the tournament in the West, have any ambassadors or fan Parks, but the biggest problem was the only feasible venue, NIB Stadium fails to meet FIFA requirements. The FFA stated after the game against Indonesia at Subiaco Oval in 2005 that they would never host an international there again because it was unsuitable for television and spectators. Had the State Government spent some of the money allocated to the refurbishment of NIB stadium on upgrading the changing rooms, then Western Australia would have a case to answer as to why we were left out of having any games. The truth is it was our own government who are at fault on this occasion. (Build it Properly and they Will Come). Some cynics have questioned whether the Sports minister did this deliberately so that Football would not be able to challenge his beloved AFL; It is extremely unlikely that a politician would be that petty and small-minded.

So why would Mr Duffield mislead his readers? Then again you cannot expect Mr Duffield to know these things as being the Chief Football writer, his time would be taken up finding inane stories to keep AFL on the back page of the paper for 350 days of the year. It is also interesting to note that the WA Football Commission has in the past paid for editorial coverage in the West Australian, to ensure that they received two or four pages coverage, yet never did the paper reveal that the space was paid for.

To be fair to Mr Duffield he does make a valid point asking why should it be a sporting event that opens the stadium, why can’t it be a concert of epic proportions? The most obvious answer would be because it is first and foremost a sporting venue.

If we wanted mass exposure maybe looking at hosting the T20 Champions League in Perth would be an option. That would attract a massive audience in the subcontinent and would give thousands of people the chance to be a part of an opening event.

The truth is whatever event or events in what should be an opening week of celebrations are staged, they must be ones that attract global attention. Perth needs to shout about this stadium and the fact that finally we have a stadium to match the best in the world – if it in fact does. Only by global exposure will we attract future events.

It is also important to realise that only by hosting the Socceroos will we see European clubs put pressure on the FFA to have more games here as the flying time will be less for their players returning home! So Football’s case actually would have a long term gain.

 

 

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. All White  |  February 13, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Thank you for putting down my thoughts. The West Australian is an absolute disgrace. Yes we all know that most of their sports writers only know is AFL, that is abundantly clear in their pieces on other sport. Seriously how can they honestly think that a bloody AFL game that no one outside of WA would care about is the ideal way to launch a World Class facility?

    Yes AFL may be the main tenant, but it will be the major events that fill the stadium and pay for it. Just as the concerts at NIB bring in more money than the Glory or Force.

    Next we will have the West saying that the WA Football Commission should run the management of the stadium. Based on their past history running Subiaco and how they have let that become such a dreadful venue they should not be allowed near the new stadium in a management capacity.

    Also Mr Duffield said the State paid for the Wallabies to come to Perth, but I do believe the ARU still pay $200k for the use of Subiaco, money I believe that goes to the WA Football Commission. Funny how he did not mention that!

    The West is full of AFL writers trying to talk up a sport that has waning interest as “new Australians” do not connect with the game and soon get sick of stories on Nick Natanui’s broken toe nail. If the editor was any good he would knock their job -protection crap on the head and it would never see the light of day.

    Reply

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