Posts tagged ‘Internet’

Is It Really Super?

All sports fans know that modern day sport is all about money. All professional sports outfits know that obtaining sponsorship to support the sport or the team is becoming increasingly harder. Yet many administrators see expansion as a way to secure more money. More games gives sponsors more exposure, and means more airtime on television. So that in turn that must mean the broadcast contract goes up in value as the television station must be able to sell the sponsorship, as they have more opportunities for advertising breaks thanks to more games.

Sadly what many of those who think along these lines do not realise is fans want to see top quality sport. With the internet and competitions from around the world available on pay-TV, or even free to air television, the genuine sports fan knows what a good game is and what isn’t.

SANZAR have finally come to an agreement to once again revamp Super Rugby. It will expand yet again and will grow from 15 to 18 teams. Argentina will have a team, South Africa a sixth team and the last team will be accepted on a tender basis. Japan is favourite at this point in time, but it would be good to see the Island nations join the fray. Despite the expansion the number of games played by teams not making the finals will be exactly the same. So why the change?

Super Rugby is just about perfect at the moment with five teams in each country. All of the teams get to meet their fellow teams from their home nation on a home and away basis, and also have games against New Zealand and South African opposition. The only way the league could have been improved was if every team played each other at least once.

The new format from 2016 will see South Africa have a conference of 8 teams split into two pools of four.  There will continue to be five teams in Australia and New Zealand, and all of the Australian teams will play all New Zealand teams each season; compared to playing four New Zealand teams per season in the current structure. All Australian teams will play all the teams in one pool of the two in South Africa.

The finals too will be expanded to include five teams from the Australasian Group and three from the South African Group.

CEO of the ARU, Bill Pulver has been understandably upbeat about the developments, “The international nature of Super Rugby makes it unique. It’s already one of the world’s most exciting provincial Rugby competitions, and with the changes announced today, it has the potential to become a truly global competition.” He said.  “Our strong preference is for the 18th team to come from Asia as we believe this will attract significant commercial opportunities for us in the future.”

Then came the clincher, when Mr Pulver said the new competition structure is an appealing proposition for broadcasters, which has the potential to deliver significant positive outcomes and growth opportunities for Rugby in Australia. Let us wait and see on that one.

“Negotiating a significantly increased broadcast deal is the single greatest opportunity we have to increase revenue for Rugby in Australia, which will ensure we can deliver on our strategic priorities and grow the game by continuing to contribute to funding Super Rugby teams; retaining our best talent; new competitions; and by creating an overall better experience for our fan base, especially on game day.” Mr Pulver said, which implies that rugby is already spending money that it hopes will come in from this new format in order to finance the National Rugby Championship. What happens if that money does not come?

Mr Pulver was on a roll, “It’s crucial for the long-term success of the Qantas Wallabies that we’re playing the best opposition in the world on a regular basis, and this has been reinforced by the new model offering the Australasian Conference a guaranteed five of eight places in the Super Rugby Finals Series. With a broader pool of playing talent, more venues and extra match-ups, the new structure presents fantastic opportunities for our players and fans.”

It is not about quantity, its about quality. If the expansion diminishes the quality of the tournament, fans will drop off in numbers. Why have the public stopped watching the Wallabies in recent years? The answer is because against the best two teams in the World New Zealand and South Africa, they have not been able to match them. Its all about quality. Australia has to allow players who have gone overseas to still represent the Wallabies, the talent pool is not strong enough to do otherwise, if they don’t its going to be a very long wait before we see an Australian lift the World Cup again.

There is no doubt this is good news for budding young players, as more opportunities will arise, but what happens if New Zealand teams take most of the finals spots from the Australasian pool come finals time?

This may look good in a powerpoint presentation but one feels Australian rugby is walking a tightrope. If they manage to get to the other side then all well and good but fans should expect a few wobbles along the way. For the sake of the sport let us hope there is a safety net.

New Zealand and South Africa have traditional competitions which breed conveyor belts of talent, Australia does not, and that is why Australia needs Super Rugby. Australian teams must perform for this new format to be successful.


May 1, 2014 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

Some Stars Rather Than All

As the three big name players, Ono, del Piero and Heskey, withdraw from the Foxtel A-League All Stars to meet Manchester United one has to now ask questions as to whether this exercise although appearing a good one is something that should be binned in the future.

The All Stars were voted on by the fans and then based on the votes a panel of wise heads in football selected the final team. It was good to see who the public thought were the best players in the A-League and as the votes came in debate raged as it always does with any team selection; Some selections coming as a surprise to many supposed experts.

The problem with the modern day internet voting is it can so easily be influenced by a few to give a desired result. For example a fan forum could get behind one particular player at an A-League club and push all its members to vote for that player. He may well then poll well enough to be in the team, even if he was not the best player in the League.

The person one has to feel sorry for is the coach who has to try and mould these players into a team at short notice, as well as have them play good attractive football. No easy task in such a small time frame.

There is no doubt that this game will have a great deal of appeal to many fans who have not had the chance to see Manchester United play in England and support from afar. It is fantastic to see them back in Australia, but one can’t help feeling that a game against the Olyroos or the A-League Champions and/or Premiers would have had more appeal. Fans support a team, not individual players. However saying that, most fans are always pleased to see players from their club receive selection in such teams and for national honours.

With players selected having retired, been transferred and injured it has made the selection process a bit of a farce. Now that the three biggest names in the team have all withdrawn from the team and the game, its credibility is coming under even closer scrutiny.

The All Star team was a great idea that had plenty of merit, it is a shame that circumstances have meant it has not panned out the way everyone would have hoped.  Will that mean the idea will or should be shelved? Time will tell.

July 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm Leave a comment

The Blurring of the White Line

Most sports fans want to watch a game or an event and know that what they are watching is real, that both teams are going out there to win and give their best for their fans. In most cases that is always the case. Despite one team being an underdog in terms of form, most fans also want to see an even playing field in terms of the rules under which teams compete. If either of these two rules of engagement are broken the belief in what is on view is eroded, as was evident with cricket and the unfortunate betting scandals and cycling and its doping scandals.

In football in Australia various clubs are whispering their discontent over a number of issues, but are afraid to voice them publicly for fear or retribution.

There is no doubt that there should be some very clear lines as to how the game is run, and this was made clear in the Crawford Report on which the administration of Football today was supposed to based. The FFA administer the game as a whole in Australia, and the state bodies were to act on their behalf carrying out the same role at the next level. The national competition, The Hyundai A-League was to be run separately. Each club in the Hyundai A league to be a private enterprise and run by the owner.

This has not happened and in recent years we have seen the FFA assist in bringing back former Socceroos and also other key players for certain Hyundai A League clubs. The FFA recently assisted Brisbane Roar in the acquisition of Jade North. Should this be happening and how do the fans of other clubs who have not benefitted from such support feel?

The FFA actually own and run a club, in the competition that they run, and they allowed that club more overseas players than all of the other teams in the competition. Again is that fair and should it be allowed? Ignore the success of the venture and the fact that they have been a good addition to the league, football must be run fairly and transparently.

The question that has to be asked is do the fans have the right to be told of the FFA’s involvement in procuring talent for certain clubs, and if they have thrown any money into the pot to help that club secure the services of a player? With the FFA being predominantly funded by the Government, and player registrations around the country many people would say that this information should be revealed; obviously without disclosing the player’s financial arrangements.

Linked to this issue is the media, a profession that many say has changed with the birth of the internet, and therefore the levels of integrity that existed in the past no longer are relevant.

Back in the days of Don Bradman newspapers paid for players to write columns so that the readers may have an insight into the thinking of the top players. This was all well and good and everyone knew that the player was being financially rewarded for his contributions. Things have changed in the last twenty years with players being much more commercially savvy and protecting their image rights, and also deservedly making money off them.

The trouble with this is that once again everything can end up not being as it seems to the fans, which some may say does not matter, but to others it is a big issue.

How would fans feel if they heard that a television station or a radio station was contributing to the salary of a player who played for a team whose games they covered? One can imagine that for that situation to occur the player is in some way obligated to the media outlet, or his image may be used to assit them in promotion, that being the case the station, or stations, are unlikely to criticise or reveal anything unsavoury should it occur to their viewers or listeners, as it could harm their investment. In these situations should the media outlets have to reveal their relationship, thereby allowing the fans to judge whether they are indeed being given balanced coverage?

There are many who will say that Football in this country needs that transparency and that such secrecy, or non-disclosure could ultimately do the game more harm. Others will say that as long as the game is moving a head who cares. To those be warned, as when investigative journalist Andrew Jennings new book The Bid: Secrets of the Battle to Host the World Cup (Read extracts via the link) hits the book shops, it could indeed send shockwaves through Australian football, and increase the demand for transparency. Jennings is the Author of “Foul” a book that exposed the corruption within the game’s governing body FIFA, and came on “Not The Footy Show” a year ago to discuss how badly Australia’s World Cup bid was managed. Some of the key players may have left the FFA, but one can bet some of the practises remain.

The game and the fans deserve to have a clear understanding of how each team has been put together before they cross the white line, so that they can sit back and enjoy the game knowing that they are watching a true sporting contest, being played under the same rules by both sides.

January 17, 2013 at 11:44 am 1 comment

Crunching the Numbers – A Key to Success

In today’s world everything is about growth. That is how economists seem to measure success. If that is the case then the London 2012 Paralympic Games truly were an outstanding success.

If you look at the number of competing nations at the games, there were 136 in Athens in 2004, 148 in 2008 in Beijing and in London 164 nations taking part, 15 appearing at their first Paralympic Games.

That would tend to indicate that there would have been more athletes in London, which was the case. There were 4,294 competitors in London in 2012 as opposed to just over 4,200 in Beijing – an official figure is hard to locate – and 3806 in Athens.

Yet the area that had the most growth was pre-sold tickets, with only 1000 pre-sold in Athens, 5000 in Beijing and a staggering 2.3million in London.

If Sydney put the Paralympic Games on the map, London has definitely taken it to another level, and Rio will have a hard act to follow. One of the key reasons for London’s success was the pricing of the tickets. Had they made other avenues to purchase tickets rather than just the internet, they could have even exceeded this figure. Certainly releasing tickets on line between midnight and 5am – as one ticket manager advised – was rather foolish, as very few normal people are on line at that time of night!

While on the subject of growth, there were 500 Paralympians drug tested at the Games as opposed to 200 in Beijing with weightlifters being the most tested.

11.2 million British people watched the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games more than three times the number who watched the opening ceremony in Beijing. However that could well have been down to the time difference and the fact that Great Britain was the host nation, even so it was great that so many people were interested enough to tune in.

Finally, one figure that has not been finalised but after just five days of the Paralympic Games organisers were concerned that the supply of 2,100 condoms was not going to be enough, and so another order was placed for the same amount to last the athletes through until the end of the games! Where do they get the energy!

September 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm Leave a comment

On-Line Not The Ticket

So the Paralympic Games are sold out! That is the spin coming out of the Local organizing committee, yet at most events on the opening day of competition there were hundreds of seats vacant.

Many fans that had bought day passes purely to be a part of the whole Paralympic vibe have been frustrated that the only way to purchase tickets is via the Internet. The official line was that tickets were available at seven o’clock every evening, yet thousands logging in have found that when they try to progress to the payment area on the official website the tickets they thought they had just ordered had gone.

Many major sporting organizations have adopted the sale of tickets to their events being only available via the internet, yet it would appear that such a system, although great for tracking sales and sales trends is not popular with their customers.

There is no doubt that the system has a few problems, as even arriving at Olympic Park and trying to claim your tickets can be a issue. One ticket holder constantly being asked if they had printed out their tickets previously as the system would not let the ticket office print them out. When they were eventually printed the customer found out that they also received a day pass on London’s Underground. Which was after they had travelled across the city to get to the venue and pick up their tickets!

There are many who say that this is a fair and good system, but it has many faults and many fans it would appear would rather hand over cash and be given their tickets there and then, and know that they have them and for what event and at what time.

Like many computer related systems it is in the main good, but maybe in future a combination of the two should be employed. Luckily this is a one off event and one that leaves all who experience it uplifted, so such problems tend to be forgotten after the initial frustration.

August 31, 2012 at 7:23 am Leave a comment

Revenge of the Nerds

The federal Court’s decision to rule in favour of Optus and its Now technology which allows people to be able to watch games virtually live, albeit through making a personal recording for their own use, rather than having to watch pay TV, is great news for the punter, but bad news for the business of sport, especially Football who were just about to renegotiate their TV rights with Fox Sports.

In fact the CEO of the FFA Ben Buckley made it quite clear his game’s position when he released his strategic plan for the game in November last year. He said “To achieve all the ambitious targets in our strategic plan we need capital to invest. Our next TV rights agreement is the opportunity to secure the financial footings for the game.”

There is no doubt that the court ruling will be appealed, but is it likely to be overturned? A similar case in Europe saw a similar outcome.

Technology has proven that it moves far faster than any law maker, which should be a warning to many. It may also spark a few lawyers to work a little faster for their dollars! If Optus wins again, there will definitely be calls for changes to be made to the law.

The argument against the ruling is that the technology was in this case designed and implemented to bypass the law, with potentially far-reaching financial damaging consequences.

Exclusive rights have been the drawcard to television stations and sponsors alike. The sport that we do not mention was paid $153 million for the internet rights alone by Telstra. If they no longer have that exclusivity the value is going to drop dramatically.

It may be prudent for many sporting clubs in the elite area to have their lawyers look at the contracts that they have with their playing staff. If revenue drops to the television stations, that means the revenue coming back to the clubs is going to drop considerably, and unless they have exemption clauses inserted player wages could well see long time established clubs go broke.

The wages in top level sport in the last twenty years have escalated to ridiculous levels, so much so that very average players are being paid far more than their ability by comparison warrants.

This has, as a result filtered down to the amateur ranks, where again players are expecting to be paid more than they are worth and more than their clubs can afford.

The dawn of professional rugby had a massive impact globally with many traditional clubs having to cut the number of teams they fielded, purely because their first teamers now expected to be paid cash rather than in ale. They simply could no longer afford to run so many sides.

This ruling will have a dramatic effect on the sporting landscape and if not over-ruled we may well have seen the last generation of sports stars on the set-up-for-life salaries.

Many will argue that this is a good thing as it will again filter down to the semi professional ranks, and may in fact save many a club that was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

This day had to come at some stage, as someone said today, ‘the geeks have been looking at ways to knockdown the jocks and it looks like their day has finally come.’

Will it be for the best, it could well be. More access to watch sport and salaries brought back to more reasonable levels at all echelons of the game, has to be good for the future. Time will tell.

February 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment

Read All About It – If You Haven’t Already.

A month ago Football West launched their first edition of Beyond 90 a new e-magazine; A great initiative, which was launched with a bumper 20 page edition.

As we say it is a great initiative, but by producing a newsletter in this format all of the stories in the publication are not traceable with a word search on the internet, which seems rather short-sighted, and a missed opportunity.

To start with 20 pages is a big ask, as now if they slip below that level it will be perceived that the publication is struggling – having managed three magazines in the past I am well aware of perceptions.
This was the first edition and so it would be unfair to judge it too harshly, but the target market needs to be worked out and the magazine tailored to that readership, and the content will probably need to carry more substance if they are to keep that readership.

Case in point being the Perth Glory Review that was published at the start of March, this is a planned feature for the April issue; too much time has passed for this to be of any great interest unless something new has been revealed.

Another concern is the planned story on past McInerney Ford Gold Medal winner David Micevski now playing in Indonesia. As it says on the Football West website, “In the upcoming issue we have a feature story on a few WA players playing in the new rebel league in Indonesia.”

Yes, it is a rebel league, unsanctioned by the Indonesian Football federation and unsanctioned by FIFA, and unless it does get sanctioned all of the players in the league could face long international bans. Is it therefore appropriate that the game’s governing body here in Western Australia should in fact be indirectly endorsing and promoting such a league and players risking their careers to play in it?

As we said a good idea from which hopefully something great will grow, but at present needing a little more thought and experience in putting it together.

March 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm Leave a comment

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