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Football wars continue

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The battle for Australian hearts and minds, in football terms, continues unabated. And it seems the field of battle is spreading to include neighbouring nations.

The Rugby League World Cup is currently being staged in Australia. As would be the case with a true Australian football World Cup, the Aussies are dominating. However the gap to the next rung of sides is not as great as in Aussie Rules, and the defence-oriented game helps keep the scoreboard relatively respectable. Nevertheless it has been interesting to hear quite a lot of criticism of the tournament, with some media lambasting the level of promotion and/or the quality. But Australian football can only look forward to a time when our International Cup reaches the same level as the RL World Cup, which itself sits a poor third to the Rugby Union WC and soccer's WC.

Disturbingly for Aussie Rules fans, there is talk that Rugby League is now rapidly growing in Oceania (Fiji, Tonga, Samoa etc), and moves are afoot to locate an NRL (Australian National Rugby League) club in Port Moresby, PNG. Meanwhile negotiations are under-way for the AFL to vacate its major venues for up to 2 months if Australia is successful in its bid for the 2018 soccer World Cup finals.

It has been widely reported that if Australia is to host soccer's major event, then the only stadia capable of holding adequate crowds across the various states will be AFL and NRL venues. Ironically that is because soccer has not had sufficient success to build large stadia for itself. Yet now it has re-branded itself as simply "football" and increasingly journalists are abused if they dare to refer to it as soccer (its original nickname to distinguish it from the other codes of football). Some of kind of reverse-racism is in play - where once soccer was considered a game for ethnic minorities, now to even call it by that name is seen as discriminatory, yet its supporters and administrators claim the name football for themselves. Sadly, Australia's national broadcaster, the ABC, has fallen into line.

And the sport's peak body will almost certainly succeed in gaining access to the major venues of Australia, if it does secure the soccer World Cup. That's because bodies such as the AFL and NRL would be seen as, that ugly term, "un-Australian" if they didn't support the country's bid, and no doubt there would also be government pressure to fall into line. On the upside there may be opportunities to improve some of the facilities through government and soccer funding, but it will be at the cost of the round ball game taking centre stage in the years leading up to the tournament.

Fiji's success in the Rugby League World Cup is said to have created major interest in that country, and it has now been reported that Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Michael Somare, is prepared to offer government support to a PNG side in the NRL. That would surely cement League as that country's number one sport at a time when Australian football, though by no means challenging for number one, has been doing so well.

The chief of NRL club the Gold Coast Titans, Michael Searle, has suggested that the NRL should in fact focus on Darwin, PNG and Oceania, rather than traditional Aussie Rules cities like Perth and Adelaide. He points out that "If we had teams along the eastern seaboard, in northern Australia and Papua New Guinea, in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, then all of a sudden we'd be looking very different to the AFL" and "If we could own Darwin and Papua New Guinea as well as the eastern seaboard of Australia and New Zealand, that would give us demographical dominance over the AFL, who have focused on geographical dominance".

The AFL is focussed on the Gold Coast and Western Sydney, with increasing interest in South Africa and Oceania. The NRL hierarchy itself appears to be battling just to hold its ground, but there are influential people that are pushing for moves into Perth and Adelaide, and others pushing for Darwin and Oceania. Meanwhile soccer appears capable of pushing simultaneously on all fronts, using its international connections.

It was interesting to see the fervour that gripped Adelaide's media as Adelaide United, the city's soccer team, pushed all the way to the final of the Asian Club Championships. All forms of media gushed with praise, and there were even members of the public, allegedly Aussie Rules supporters, pledging that an Adelaide United win would mean more to them than an Adelaide Crows flag in the AFL.

One well known Adelaide sporting commentator, K.G. Cunningham, after speaking about how excited he was about one match, when pushed admitted that he hadn't actually found the game interesting. Yet he was still over the top with excitement because of the international nature of the competition. Like it or not, call it a cultural cringe or not, that is increasingly the Australian focus. And one thing is for sure, if any code stumbles or does not have the stomach to play this battle on the international stage, it will fall by the wayside.

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Football wars continue | 27 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Football wars continue
Authored by: Christopher P. Adams, Ph.D. on Sunday, November 16 2008 @ 11:59 pm ACDT

You make it seem that football is an either/or proposition. You have to
choose between Rugby League, Rugby Union, Football (sorry soccer), or
Aussie Rules (I mean footy um Australian Football what ever its called...).
Can't have all the footballs? Can't I love the enormous tension that builds
in a soccer game? Can't I enjoy the ... what ever it is people like about

This year, an economist and New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, was
awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. He was not given the award for his
scathing attacks on George W Bush, rather for pointing out that people like
choices. People like having multiple brands of football. Having multiple
footballs does not have to mean a smaller slice of the pie it can mean a
bigger pie! This is why Tim Tams can sell well in America even though
America already has lots of cookies to choose from.
(I think I need to eat something.)

Carna Revos!


Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, November 17 2008 @ 01:50 pm ACDT

I understand what you're saying Chris, and yes, people can love multiple sports, and in general we try not to denigrate other sports on this site - people have every right to love other codes and each has aspects that appeal. But to some extent there will be a limit to how many can dominate the sporting lanscape.

You're in the huge US market where a variety of flourishing national leagues is easily contemplated, economic conditions permitting (the US population is about 14 times that of Australia). But in Australia it's much harder to see very successful soccer, Aussie Rules, Rugby Union and Rugby League national leagues simultaneously being strong across all states - the population and income doesn't support it.

The various codes are in there trying to "steal" each other's young talent, and the leagues are trying to win members (i.e. money) in non-traditional areas. Something has to give, and historic clubs will fold. And as you can see from the quoted comments of Michael Searle, people involved with the NRL or their clubs are thinking strategically in terms of NRL vs AFL.

Sean, your propensity to scrutinise everything written on this site is admirable but we're not going to cite references to everything we write, particularly since some things are not in the print media anyway, e.g. they are on radio and TV as well. This is a sports news site it isn't an academic journal. As for your periodic slights regarding "professsional journalism" etc, I'm sure you find just as many faults with big media that get paid for what they do. Other than the timeliness of some of our articles, I'm satisfied our writers stack up quite well.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: Sean Finlayson on Monday, November 17 2008 @ 03:49 pm ACDT
Brett, are you saying that there is no difference between the quality of articles on worldfootynews.com and say theroar.com.au ? Have you thought about posting some stories there ?

Basically I think this article is in the realm of opinion. It does tend to bash rugby league a bit. For the record I've seen references of the AFL International Cup being a joke too, but haven't seen them mentioned on this site. You're right, not all of us are one-eyed AFL supporters. The fact that the Rugby League World Cup has been running for over half a century to get the level of media and attendance support that it enjoys today should not be understated. Are you saying that when the AFL fields a side in 2055 that our code will be subject to the same lambasting ? I would have thought it be logical to enter an amateur side into an amateur competition, or if not, then let the professionals play for their own nations, but not Australia. Instead, what we have at the moment is, like International Rules a kind of hybrid competition. The AFL wants to be involved, but at the same time keep an arms length. In my opinion, you either choose one or the other.

Anyhow, there is a difference between scrutinizing and reading. I read your article once and the things I thought didn't look right, I responded to. That is what comments are for. I'm not scrutinizing or criticizing every article, I just felt that this one may have stepped over the line in terms of rambling statements and speculation without a basis in fact.

Personally I would have thought the actuality of Port Moresby getting an NRL licence would be behind Tasmania getting an AFL licence by a big margin. Though there is something to be said for the NRL expansion policy, at the very least they are rewarding their fans and organic grassroots growth rather than trying to artificially force feed the code from the top down. International league competition does add a whole new level, but despite the great growth abroad I don't think the AFL has the foresight to make it a reality.

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, November 17 2008 @ 09:15 pm ACDT

In response to Sean, the irony is amazing - I visited the website the Roar that you wrote about, and the front page (although be warned it was an opinion piece though!) was "The Rugby League World Cup is a joke". Maybe I wasn't just making stuff up after all.

Not that I actually agree with that sentiment. I respect what they're trying to achieve, much the same as we all are in Aussie Rules with the International Cup, they've just had a significant head start. I referred to criticism of it to demonstrate that it's interesting to see that at all levels there are always critics.

And in terms of criticism of the IC, we reported a few things that were said on various issues, such as comments on the divisions from China, the umpires from the Irish, and we had a whole story about the difficult issue of umpiring. I didn't see anyone else associated with it criticising it for us to report on.

Anyway I'm not sure from your comment whether you're suggesting that site the Roar is better or worse than this one, and I'm not sure why I would consider posting articles on it. It seems quite a nice polished site, although packed with more "rambling" opinion pieces than news, but covering all sports which no doubt keeps it turning over and obviously focussed more on mainstream top professional leagues.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: Sean Finlayson on Monday, November 17 2008 @ 09:29 am ACDT

No doubt you've researched this but perhaps for the benefit of the readers you'd like to supply links to the media articles "lambasting" the Rugby League World Cup and also something other than anecdotal evidence that rugby league is growing rapidly in Oceania would be nice ... I certainly haven't come across any of these. Also some comments could be misinterpreted. I don't think the moves for a PNG side in the NRL are coming from the NRL, but coming from PNG itself. Perhaps it is also worth noting just how likely Australia's FIFA World Cup bid is to be accepted - even many of the die hard soccer fans see it as nothing more than a pipe dream. Obviously I'm not expecting professional journalism, just a link or two. Because otherwise there is a real danger of articles like this one becoming opinion pieces.

Football wars continue
Authored by: nobleoz on Wednesday, November 26 2008 @ 10:41 am ACDT

I saw various negative comments about the RL World Cup in the Sydney media before & at the beginning of it. Now they are talking up the crowds & TV audiences as having proven that it was a success. But the Sydney crowds were pathetic (as usual in NRL). AFL has nothing to fear, & will gradually be played by more & more youth in Sydney.

Football wars continue
Authored by: Stephen Anthony Funder on Monday, November 17 2008 @ 07:05 pm ACDT

With Australia's small population and economy and given the increasing financial demands on the various codes there is only room for one major player the others being more subordinate in nature.That is why the succesful code must attract ,hold and grow its following for commercial reasons.You cannot afford to have any fence sitting,warm and fuzzy fairweaher friends who like to spread their favours about.Thats because with the first sign of adversity you won't see them for dust.Australian football faces enough obstacles such as the bias displayed by the Qld Government in handing out $200 million for a stadium at the Gold Coast at the drop of a hat.With taxpayer funded payouts like that no wonder Michael Searle is cocky.You also have the acute myopia of the Victorian public who are against anything unless its in their own back yard.
The AFL have to be very business like and ruthless when dealing with its compeditors and where possible roll right overthe top of them.You cannot under any circumstances be sentimental.You take no prisoners.
All the best
Stephen Funder

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, November 17 2008 @ 09:28 pm ACDT

Yep, what Stephen Funder said is the reason I think the "football wars" are important, because of Australia's relatively small market. And of course if the AFL faded then a lot of the impetus for our sport internationally would fade - there wouldn't be the support for South Africa, there wouldn't be fresh waves in the same numbers of Aussie expats going out and starting clubs, there wouldn't be new generations who saw it on TV and wanted to play, etc.

Personally, if I had to make a long term prediction to say 2050, I'd expect that there will be three sports considered to be big in Australia in terms of where the money, crowds and talent are. They would be 20-20 cricket, soccer and one other football code. Whether it be the AFL, Rugby League or Rugby Union, it depends on which sport plays its cards best. Sure the other codes would still exist, but I suspect in a much weaker form.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: Christopher P. Adams, Ph.D. on Tuesday, November 18 2008 @ 12:15 am ACDT

An unattended casulity of the football wars is junior footy development in Baltimore. One of the Rugby clubs in Baltimore was founded by Australians. Club members are so opposed to Australian football that they are upset about us using a city field when they are not using it. Moreover, they will not allow us to contact a Police sponsored youth program for inner city kids because they are running a junior rugby program. Very sad.

Carna Revos!


Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Tuesday, November 18 2008 @ 11:44 am ACDT

That is sad. There are people that push the "wars" hard and those that ignore it. I'm told that in Ireland it is difficult for Aussie Rules to secure grounds and players due to GAA resistance. On the flipside, Gaelic and Aussie Rules clubs all around the world often play International Rules against each other, or borrow players from each other - they help each other survive.

And in Australia a sport like soccer would not have made it very far if the stronger football codes had fervently used their political power to deny funding or space to soccer. I'm not claiming they were particularly accommodating, but they didn't try to snuff it out, nor should they have.

And many of the recruits to Aussie Rules internationally are players from Rugby or soccer or other sporting backgrounds. By no means should they have to abandon those sports and declare their undying love for Australian football.

In terms of PNG geting an NRL side, which I think would still be highly unlikely in the next 15 years, part of me would be disappointed due to the impact it could have on Australian football there. But part would be pleased for them. It's a developing country that faces some big issues, and the more development and outside interest the better.

It's the same with South Africa. If the AFL program is very successful then excellent. If it results in soccer or Rugby throwing more resources in to counteract it, then at least a population in need of more support will have had a win.

You can't feel smug that you're helping a group in need if deep down your 100% motivation is to spread your sport. Sounds like the people Chris refers to are in need of a reminder of that.

Make no mistake, I'd like to see Australian football "win" the so-called wars, but not at any cost and it shouldn't cause any more than good natured competition between codes and supporters.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: Aaron Richard on Tuesday, November 18 2008 @ 04:16 pm ACDT

For Sean's, and anyone else's benefit, here are some links to media stories critical of the RLWC as Brett mentioned.

These are from late last year, as criticism mounted pre-event:

World Cup Under Fire - The Daily Telegraph (Sydney).

Wilkin Expresses World Cup Fears - BBC World Sport.

This is the article from TheRoar.com.au that Brett mentioned.

The Rugby League World Cup is a Joke.

It starts as follows: The Rugby League World Cup is more Amco Cup than World Cup. Tonight, we were supposed to watch and enjoy a delayed broadcast of a semi-final of the Rugby League World Cup.

The Australian team comprised players from professional NRL teams. The Fiji team was a scratch team of mostly amateur players hailing from places such as Parkes and Wentworthville.

This is an article quoting Australian rugby league legend Gordon Tallis' response to criticism in the media: Rugby League World Cup not a joke, says Gorden Tallis - Courier Mail.

Another from last month: What Rugby League World Cup? - The West

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, November 23 2008 @ 02:18 pm ACDT

An interesting footnote to all this is that last year NZ lost to Australia in Rugby League 58-0 (that's equivalent to an Aussie Rules loss of what, maybe 300-20). And in their last four games the aggregate was Aus 140 to NZ 24. And Australia started the tournament with a 30-6 win over the Kiwis.

But guess what, in the final in front of over 50,000 fans in Brisbane last night, NZ won the grand final 34-20 to win the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. That must be a big boost to RL worldwide and especially in NZ. Let's hope Australia can find a similarly worthy opponent in Australian Football one day.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Tuesday, November 25 2008 @ 12:48 pm ACDT

Question - what pseudonym did you use on theRoar?

I posted a bit on theRoar back during the IC,...there are some 'cross code' folk who are mighty supportive of what the AFL is doing, i.e. running an 'IC' rather than 'WC' and keeping it purely developmental rather than 'bolstering' it with expats and children of (alas, my chances to represent my parents homeland - Denmark, has passed me by!!).

Having noted that US Football (Grid Iron) has run 3 'world cup' events, '99, '03 and '07, and that the US only participated in '07 - - - well, that suggests we could call it a WC if we wanted even without Australia involved.

Reality though - always is, most football codes are negatively geared (rule set) 'defensive' games. Australian footy is very much the opposite (although, it can still be mighty hard to kick a goal, just ask the Chinese and Indian sides). So, the capacity for a bitpart pro/semi pro single nation open age team in years to come to challenge Australia will be highly unlikely.

However, we need to keep benchmarking, and Maffra vs NZ Falcons is about the only reference there is. Not always fair though, i.e. a local team that plays every week and many came up through the Maffra juniors together, vs an amateur national team that only plays/trains together every so often.

We need more situations such as the Amateurs tour of Ireland to occur - - not playing IR matches though. The Australian Convicts perhaps needs to be expanded. And for all that it's lovely that the Fed Govt effectively under writes the FFA and their 9 National Teams - - playing soccer vs Uzbekistan is hardly inspiring Uzbek kids to head to Australia to attend Uni and learn more about 'the game'. Whereas, the current articles about the Canadian Wolfpack is symbolic of just what our game can achieve.....more at a junior level. ANd on that front, I'm always mindful that a ICC U19s level, Zimbabwe were far, far more competitive than at open age level. Likewise, let's not focus on an open age competitor for Australia, but, and U16s or U18s opponent for Australia - - before professional 'elite' development has kicked in.

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Tuesday, November 25 2008 @ 01:34 pm ACDT

> Question - what pseudonym did you use on theRoar?

Who was that query aimed at Munro Mick? If it was me, the answer is no one, I don't think I've ever posted on there.

I agree a competitive opposition to Australia is more likely to come at junior level first - once the best Aussie juniors have spent years in the professional AFL system they will move even further ahead.

The flipside is that currently a lot of international juniors are starting the game late, so also won't be as advanced as the Aussie juniors at the same age.

The AAFC (Aussie amateurs council) are interested in sending rep sides to play other countries, so hopefully that will happen at an appropriate time, once other countries reach the right level. I suspect there will be no shortage of opposition once the standard improves, be it Convicts, AAFC sides, other touring clubs and groups.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 12:06 am ACDT

Well, now we've seen everything. The NAB Cup quarter final match scheduled for Telstra Dome between Richmond and Collingwood has been re-scheduled because the national soccer league wants to use it for their final - a double booking and the soccer wins out in Melbourne. I certainly hope the AFL got some promise of future reward from what appears to be a free kick to soccer.

That comes on top of the December confirmation that the Australian government will give soccer AUD$45.6 million just to lobby for a soccer World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Not to stage it, but to lobby for it. I saw one report that said that if Australia wins the right to host it they can expect to "attract a broadcast viewing audience in excess of 26 billion". Given the planet's current population of about 6 billion and expected population by then of around 8 billion, then I can only assume a viewer who watches 10 games must count as 10 people.

We even had an A League coach bag his own city and then have former Australian football players now journalists forgive him unquestioningly as a mistake, he was talking about certain people not the city. There were also near riots between supporters at the club's previous match. Everything that goes wrong in the other football codes is screamed as headlines but one sport has somehow become a sacred cow in just a few short years. I don't know if it's canny marketing or control of media through big spending, or an extension of political correctness. Somehow the other codes need to solve that riddle themselves.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: Ash Nugent on Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 05:26 pm ACDT

The AFL was advised by their legal counsel that had the matter gone to court they would have won. But the issue is so much more complex than that. Firstly it's hard to argue that a national soccer final is less important than a NAB Cup match. Whilst the AFL booked the stadium first, and did all that was required by them, they're made to look like bullies because Etihad Stadium management double booked the venue, and FFA smartly played the "we're the victim" card. It's neither the AFL or FFA's fault, but it left the AFL vulnerable to criticism and the FFA smartly exploited the situation. Further complicating matters, the AFL is currently or about to (can't remember which) take legal action against Etihad Stadium management for securing Etihad as a major sponsor, which conflicts with Qantas, who sponsors the AFL, and who are the stadium's main tenant. The AFL has also previously stressed their dislike at the less-favourable deals the stadium offers several Victorian AFL clubs, by comparison with teams from rival sports.

Whilst I see soccer as a big threat to football in Australia, I see football as a bigger threat to soccer overseas. After all, football only really has ground to lose in Australia (and maybe PNG and South Africa) whereas football has ground to gain virtually everwhere else. I judge the A-League's success by Melbourne Victory's on and off-field success (due to their location in prime Australian Football territory). Victory's average attendance was highest in the 2006-07 season, in which they were premiers. The two following seasons have yielded slightly lower average turnouts (fifth and first-spot finishes). This suggests that support has leveled off, and whilst an average crowd in the 20,000s is by no means poor (especially comparing with the clubs in the old NSL) it is a long stretch off the support AFL teams enjoy.

I hope AFL fans turn out in their droves to see the NAB Cup match, and put a dent in the FFA's arrogant attitude.

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 08:22 pm ACDT

Yep, good points. And no question the AFL would be portrayed in the media as the bad guys if they had blocked soccer. It would be okay by me if the codes had a simply healthy rivalry but it seems to me, certainly in South Australia where I live, that Australian football is under a major assault and is giving up ground at every turn, and there's nothing friendly about it with footy being told to move over.

Don't take what I say as all gloom and doom. I think our game has never been healthier internationally and is definitely looking good, and in big state like Queensland it's on the up, with progress in NSW, okay in NT and possibly WA, and of course all codes have mostly ignored Tasmania at the highest level (which has meant they are easier to take for granted).

But here in SA I've witnessed in my lifetime soccer go from a very small sport to mainstream acceptance, I've seen the local A League side become everyone's team, a nice stadium upgrade, averaging around 10k per game whilst Port Adelaide's attendance's have steadily fallen into the mid-20k range, I see more stickers on cars for the local soccer side than the Crows or Power. I see more people wearing soccer labels day to day than Australian football. There are thousands of junior soccer games every weekend across Adelaide and constant calls for more fields and despite surging numbers of new clubs they can't keep up. The main radio sports show that was 90% our code and 10% all others is now closer to 50-50 and fall over themselves to heap praise on soccer - inaugural Crows coach Graham Cornes even began playing. And every step of the way people are corrected if they use the term football to mean Aussie Rules, or soccer to mean "real football". Drive around the city in the evening and the playing fields are full of African immigrants playing soccer - good for them and very pleasing to see them having fun, but you wonder just where the next generation of footy fans and players will come from. Nationally our main national broadcaster agreed to call soccer football and Australian football becomes AFL, we have a free to air channel almost dedicated to soccer (SBS), the government bankrolling a national women's league, tens of millions for a world cup bid, and every 4 years guaranteed saturation coverage with the soccer world cup, and with the Asian championships nationally and at club level, the soccer news on the TV never really ends.

Sorry if that sounds negative and as though I feel under siege but that's how it seems in Adelaide. Hopefully not so bad in other footy strongholds like Melbourne and Perth. A lot of people speculate that one day there will be 3rd AFL teams in Perth and Adelaide. Perhaps in Perth, which not so long ago was smaller than Adelaide but has had strong growth, but in Adelaide AFL crowds and general support is going down in my opinion. So I'd like to see footy stand its ground.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: flyinghigh on Thursday, February 19 2009 @ 06:02 pm ACDT

hi all...hopefully whats going on in Sa is just a soccer faze brett...in the early 2000s both the eagles and dockers where struggling and perth glory where just begining there 3 grand finals in a row...the state was going soccer crazy all types of media couldnt get enough of them...they averaged 17,000 per game and I was 1 of the 44,000 at subi to see them win the flag(i was thinking bugger this i could be watching the eagles play essendon at the dome right now and also seeing a full house at subi to watch soccer made me feel ill)but half a decade later things have gone back to normal....the eagles-dockers hatered for each other has split the state..you could be fresh of the boat and hate football but at the end of the day you will be asked 1 question are you a dockers or eagles man(1 thing which the the dockers are doing right is there massive push off field to pass the eagles as the wests power side and there not taking any prisoners to pass the eagles in members-it will be a bad day in hell when those {mind my french} purple poofs can say they are bigger off field)..right now the glory has almost disapeared from the newspaper and tv and its crowd av is down to about 3000 a game and football here is screaming for a bigger oval...I think once the crows or power win another flag and/or the local soccer team has a bad yr life as you use to know it will be back

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, February 19 2009 @ 09:48 pm ACDT

I don't mind a bit of swearing but not the best choice of words.

Yeah I hope you are right but I think it's fairly clear that the shift is more deep seated here. It could be a coincidence but the under 20s around me (friends and families) tend to be more into soccer. Even the grandkids of one of the all time greats of footy, Barrie Robran, have reportedly taken up soccer - he was a great with North Adelaide, his sons played for Adelaide and Hawthorn. Any one event like that is fine, but you hear too much of it. Another worry is that Adelaide has not been out of the finals for several years, and although up and down, Port have hardly been a cellar dweller. Where to when that happens? Truth is that in terms of crowd and finances Port are causing quite a few concerns.

I suspect the era when the VFL was gobbling up the SANFL's best players did a lot of damage - the SANFL clubs were just trying to survive and have been ever since (and 2 had to merge), so I suspect footy lost some ground there. They were just trying to keep their existing crowds, not attract new people. It's also well known that the main non-SANFL league here, the "amateur" league, has been a very rough league, especially below A grade, which probably hasn't helped attract or keep kids in the game. Obviously not enough done with migrant communities either - improving now but an uphill battle. More than anything else I suspect footy was arrogant that it was #1 and didn't do enough to protect that position. I have/had no problem with soccer having a successful niche, but obviously the trajectory that it may swamp footy is very disturbing.

I'm sure there are a lot of positive Auskick numbers to say I'm overstating the problem, and it's obviously worse at the moment as it has been a long summer with no AFL where soccer has easily been the #1 sport item each week - maybe I'll be more upbeat in the middle of the year.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: flyinghigh on Friday, May 29 2009 @ 06:36 pm ACST

its the middle of the the yr brett...r u feeling alittle bit more upbeat..is the talkback sports shows still 50/50 footy/soccer or has life turned back to normal..over in perth there was talk of a small european club championship match last week and a 1 line write up on another non important match(FA cup)this week....there has been more talk about the wildcats than the glory this yr and when they talk about these clubs its allways about survival...also something out the blue I have noticed over the last few yrs that sunrise and the today show(both out of sydney)have started to put afl reports before nrl reports when they do there daily sports review..I know its nothing major and may not change the sydney sports landscape but r they accepting it that its here to stay

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, May 29 2009 @ 10:03 pm ACST

Yeah obviously in AFL season things swing back a long way, though there's still a growing level of soccer discussion on radio in Adelaide even in AFL season. It's not the end of the world but put it this way, if Aussie Rules was growing in influence at the same rate in say Europe or North America as soccer is in Adelaide, I'd be a very happy man.

It was interesting to note that Adelaide's A-League soccer team has had their owner hand back the license - they'll still exist but will have to be supported by the A-League. In Rugby Union there's talk there could be another Super 14 franchise in Australia, based on the Gold Coast - what a crowded market suddenly.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: Ash Nugent on Saturday, May 30 2009 @ 11:56 am ACST

Brett - interesting how you mention the new Rugby Union franchise could be on the Gold Coast. Is this a report from South Australian papers? All the Victorian papers argue Melbourne is a shoo-in having missed out against W.A. last time (mistake) and ARU not wanting to create divisions amongst the existing markets.

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Saturday, May 30 2009 @ 06:09 pm ACST

You would think Melbourne is the logical choice, and maybe that's how it will turn out, but The Australian seemed to think they had an inside word to the contrary:

Gold Coast looms as major player in ARU's new plans

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Football wars continue
Authored by: Aaron Richard on Saturday, May 30 2009 @ 04:54 pm ACST

From what I remember reading in the paper a few weeks ago, apparently the Melbourne Victory (for o/s readers, the only A-League soccer club in the city, and one of the most successful in the league so far) have made a 7-figure loss this season just been. I'll try and find the article I saw that in.

Football wars continue
Authored by: flyinghigh on Saturday, May 30 2009 @ 10:54 pm ACST

very interesting on the A league...the perth glory operating at a loss,the melb victory at a loss(possible ?)and a Adelaide owner handing back it lic(is it because its running at a loss)..I thought FFA or as it should be called the SFA was a strong body cashed up and ready to take over...its going to very intersting to see over the next 20 yrs what a rival to the brisbane lions(GC17) and sydney swans(WS) is going to do when it comes to sponsors,supporters and the overall sporting culture in those areas..if it is as half as good as the collingwood/carlton...eagles/dockers or ade/port rivalry the football is heading in the right direction

Football wars continue
Authored by: Chris on Sunday, May 31 2009 @ 05:10 pm ACST
Enjoyed reading your comments on the prospects of the different codes. Most of the A-League soccer clubs are running at a loss, although I notice the new Gold Coast United team is backed by a billionaire, who will no doubt blow a lot of money on the franchise for no return.

In regard to the comments about it now being called "football" by the media, it is interesting that "soccer" was actually a term coined by the English tabloids in the 1880's to cover English football. Soccer was a play on Association Football with the 'soc' part starting the word soccer. Check out wikipeadia to verify http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associat...#Etymology

This is interesting because my English friends in Sydney typically question me when I call it soccer, claiming it's not called soccer, so I enjoy referring them to the history on wikipeadia.

It's disappointing the media in this country have rolled over to the likes of Frank Lowy & co and started calling it football when in this country it should be referred to as soccer,as it is in USA, Canada, New Zealand etc, where it is not the preeminent footbal code. Speaking of Frank Lowy, it's also disappointing after the refuge and wealth Australia has given him that he is now on a single minded mission to grow soccer to the detriment of a unique part of Australian culture - Australian football. Australian football was invented in Australia and has been played here for 150 years and it would be nice if Mr Lowy provided some support to the game that is a key part of Australia's heritage and socio-cultural fabric.

AFL & Rugby followers shouldn't be worried about soccer and the A-League, no matter how much of Mr Lowy's and taxpayers money is shovelled into it, the best players will always be drawn to the bigger money and markets in Europe. The A-League will never be anything but a second rate league for those who weren't good enough to make it or a retirement ground for those who did. Whereas AFL and the rugby codes will generally have the best on show in Australia (although there may be some risk the best rugby union players will start moving to rich European clubs in places like France). For this reason alone soccer will never dominate as a professional code in Australia.

All that being said I very much enjoy watching the socceroos and hope they go as best as possible in the World Cup next year. And I hope our best soccer players continue to strut their stuff in the major European leagues, but I won't waste my time and money going to watch A-League teams.

The AFL is easily the wealthiest sport in Australia with sustainable underlying earnings and support. Soccer survives professionally on government grants and rich benefactors. Most rugby league clubs make a loss and survive on pokie machine revenue. The League-ies cannot sustain the current payments to players and the leakage to rugby union, which is currently a stream trickle will eventually be a gushing river. Rugby union is not in a great state in Australia at the moment but as the second most popular football code in the world its future is without doubt.

Rugby unions next side will definitely be in Melbourne - that's where the greatest bulk of untapped tv ratings are. They already get ratings from western sydney and the Gold Coast.

My tip is that over the next 20 years rugby league will continue to diminish into a small time provincial code as rugby union drains it of its better players and resources. Soccer will be around, probably in the A-League format, but the A-League won't have any major players or any of its players in the full strength socceroos side.

AFL will be the dominant code and rugby union should be relatively strong if they can get their house in order, which it looks like they're doing with the new competition format next year (look out League). Having said that they have a lot of work to do with the Australian sides at the moment not making the finals and the new Melbourne side to further spread thin the talent base - this just means League will be raided for more players sooner rather than later.

AFL needs to press ahead and receive support from its fans for the Gold Coast and Western Sydney expansions and at the sametime increasingly turn its attention to the international market.

According to the 2008 AFL Annual Report AFL now has approx 690,000 participants in Australia (a 50,000 increase on the year before), including Brett an increase in South Australia. The same report says there are approx 45,000 participants overseas. With its current emergence in many overseas countries I would not be surprised, with a little more AFL support, if we find in 20 years the international participation rate has increased 10 fold. And just maybe in 20 to 30 years we may have an international team that can put up a competitive effort against Australia.

Football wars continue
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, May 31 2009 @ 09:44 pm ACST

I can't fault Lowy for supporting soccer in Australia - he's a great migrant success story and Australia is one of the world's great multicultural melting pots, bringing all sorts of customs and cultures together in one country. I just take issue when the existing cultures within Australia are not respected or are dismissed - promote your own, but don't talk down that of others, and don't tell them that yours is the only real football.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN