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Adelaide-born Rhodes Scholar kicking goals with Oxford Uni
Authored by: Ash Nugent on Saturday, November 27 2010 @ 02:34 pm ACDT

Lowy beware - money can't buy support in the long term. A-League crowds have continually dropped since their second season and in some cases aren't much better now than the NSL was. Pushing into new markets as a knee jerk reaction (Gold Coast, Western Sydney) are dangerous risks. Not that we mind...

Adelaide-born Rhodes Scholar kicking goals with Oxford Uni
Authored by: krabby_me on Saturday, November 27 2010 @ 11:48 pm ACDT

I can't help but think that the HAL expansion teams of Nth QLD and Gold Coast have been taken straight from the AFLs future expansion plans.
Obviously Ben Buckley would have been privy to ALL the contents of such a plan, and the FFA would not have the resources available to conduct such an intense review and produce a detailed plan. As such, perhaps the FFA were simply following the AFL?

Adelaide-born Rhodes Scholar kicking goals with Oxford Uni
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Sunday, November 28 2010 @ 10:00 am ACDT

The HAL have issues, that's for sure. The attempt to run 30plus rounds AS WELL AS finals - which is a very un-Euro soccer thing. It's forced all these low drawing mid week fixtures - - costs are costs. It's not a great 'business model' - but, you only need look at the EPL and NFL where owners don't make money on the running of the club, they simply do like a Van Gogh and sell it for a profit then to the next big ego that comes along.

Adelaide-born Rhodes Scholar kicking goals with Oxford Uni
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Monday, November 29 2010 @ 11:44 am ACDT

Just an FYI - re the A-League. Up to and including 2008/09 (V4), they had 21 rounds, 4 games a week.
In V3, they managed a crowd ave of 14,600 ish, with only 20 (24%) of the 84 matches going sub 10,000. The 10,000 mark is important - it was an early goal to achieve a 10,000 average, and by V3 they were going great guns. At that point, it was in the top 20 of global soccer leagues for average attendances.
Since then,
V4 - still 84 matches, dropped to a tad over 12,000. And 38 of 84 games were sub 10,000. From 24% to 45%.
V5 - expanded to 27 rounds with 5 matches a week. 135 matches. Total avg dropped below 9,800, with 90 (67%) of matches sub 10,000.

That might've been okay if it were just the new teams in (GC and Fury) bringing it down. And the number of matches above 10,000 was stable, 46 to 45.

However, the worrying factor was more the drop off at MVFC. Victory had been the crowd boosting side. In V2, they moved into Docklands and did 32,000 average at that venue. V3 dropped to 26K, V4 to 24.5K and V5 to below 21K. This was despite on field success and this was the lead into the introduction of the Melbourne Hearts.

This is the context of the expansion. However, one could look to the AFL and the Swans vs the Giants. At least for the AFL, they won't be playing the same home ground. And they do clearly represent different zones of a very large city. It's still a bit hazy just what Hearts represent vs what Victory represent?

And so, for the HAL this season so far, this season, over 90 matches played, and 72% have been sub 10,000. MVFC at Etihad, now vastly limited with AAMI park on line, is sub 17,000 average. And with Hearts in town, the avg attendance at AAMI park is 10,600 ish. Sure - the home town rivalry will take time to bed down. For now, it's effectively taken the previous fortnightly total for MVFC and spread it out weekly over twice as many matches (more with expanded season), 2 full squads and their costs.

This has to impact on the running costs when clubs are struggling not just for profits or limited losses - but, struggling to pay players. In the AFL, we're well removed from the 10 cents in the dollar days of Fitzroy and StKilda in the '80s. Now the profit/loss might dictate the style of pre-season altitude training program, US or NZ or Mt.Hotham.

So, and we know the AFL has committed big money to support Giants and Suns. So far, the less mature league that is the A-League has shown that rapid expansion has been a major risk. From V3, avg attendances are down 43%. And since V3, there are 3 extra clubs, and 30 games each across 11 clubs - 165 matches.

I guess the obvious dilemma for the A-League that the AFL does not face, is the A-League is just one of many world wide leagues. It suffers in competition with soccer on TV. It suffers in competition in a sense to the Socceroos, Beckham, and Asian Champions League.

Adelaide-born Rhodes Scholar kicking goals with Oxford Uni
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, November 29 2010 @ 02:12 pm ACDT

The biggest issue will be the World Cup. If Australia gets it then everything changes, if we do not, then maintaining the media interest and enthusiasm could be difficult. It can't be overstated what a big moment this is going to be for soccer and indeed all football codes in Australia.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Adelaide-born Rhodes Scholar kicking goals with Oxford Uni
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Monday, November 29 2010 @ 05:25 pm ACDT

It remains to be seen. The best players in the foreseeable will still be going overseas. The main thing for Australian soccer is if more players are going to Asian leagues rather than European Leagues. The Australian Domestic soccer league has a glass ceiling - - for a variety of reasons, not least that there's certainly not 'football' vacuum in this country.

Unlike Japan for example, where baseball was huge, and post 2002 the J-League has improved selectively, there's a whole bunch of WC stadia that need to be used.

In Australia, the game of soccer will still be competing with a vast variety of sports. The build up to the WC includes 'pre legacy' - - stadium upgrades that seriously would happen with or without the WC. And being used by other codes - - that kills off a bit of the aura - - were the WC to see the grand opening of 5 or 6 venues around the country then that'd build up huge curiousity, but, over the next 12 years, how many of these venues will by necessity have been 'opened' at least 4 odd years prior. If not 8 years prior, or 10. What are the timelines for Subiaco and Adelaide??

A WC is no guarantee of domestic success - - just look at Rugby Union post 2003.

Adelaide-born Rhodes Scholar kicking goals with Oxford Uni
Authored by: Brett Northey on Monday, November 29 2010 @ 06:21 pm ACDT

I can't judge other states so well, but the shift in South Australia has been steady. The A League has ups and downs but there is a steady underlying shift to soccer, and both AFL clubs have had falling crowds and interest for several years despite relatively successful periods on field. So while the AFL is making some slow but steady gains internationally, and still pours millions into Victoria and of course is making positive gains in QLD and NSW, perhaps I live in the state that has suffered the biggest slide.

So I don't see the WC issue as a stadia legacy but as the battle for hearts and minds and sponsorship. Interestingly a major backer of Aussie Rules in SA recently bought Adelaide United soccer club and will be using an SANFL (Aussie Rules) club (North Adelaide) to support it - I intend writing an article on that later. I continue to meet Australian football people who say their kids will or do play soccer instead of the indigenous code.

I don't like to be too bleak on here as this site is about promoting our great game and readers should have no doubt that it is VERY strong in parts of Australia and growing in others, as well growing internationally, but there's no doubt that it is quite unhealthy in what used to be the second strongest state, South Australia. Crowds are down, ratings are down, finances are down.

There are moves to address that. The recent decision to merge Port Adelaide Power and Port Adelaide Magpies is allegedly for the great good, the state government has agreed to roll in around half a billion to redevelop Adelaide Oval and move footy back that, the SANFL replaced the U17s and U19s with U18s to focus on talent development and SA had a very healthy representation at the recent AFL draft and has been very competitive at the national junior champs, and finally female footy may be starting to be addressed (can you believe there are only about 4 women's senior sides in the state, when some less traditional footy states have many, and I gather Victoria has 100s).

But I still worry. Talking to a friend and former amateur footy player recently, he said since watching the soccer WC before last he has decided he'd angle his kids towards soccer not footy, mainly because of the whole world contest and culture of it. Within a few weeks of that comment a major footy backer (worth 100s of millions) announced his support for soccer, saying he was converted at the South Africa WC. These kinds of anecdotes are not one offs. I hear them year in and year out. We lost our way somewhere in the last 20 years. To those that think an international dimension to Aussie Rules is not important or will undermine the game any time in the next 50 years (you probably don't read this site much anyway), as best as I can tell you're thinking in completely the wrong direction.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Adelaide-born Rhodes Scholar kicking goals with Oxford Uni
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Monday, November 29 2010 @ 08:46 pm ACDT

Yep - the growing international aspect to the game is crucial - as Australia is the central hub of world (Australian) footy. In the soccer world, we're just another of many. Part of the key is to not lose the domestic strength.

re soccer and little tackers - Aust Footy at least has the advantage compared to the Rugby codes - in that if kids combine soccer and footy up to perhaps age 10-12, then, the conversion to Aust Footy is not so difficult. And Aust footy knows itself well enough now in many cases to know how to transition people.

Sth Aussie is interesting, as, the Sweeney 'interest' surveys commonly showed SA and WA to be even stronger 'footy fortress' states than Vic, which in turn was well and truly a stronger bastion to footy than NSW and QLD were to either soccer or either of the Rugby codes.

That being the case - there's probably a fair chance of some element of 'correction' in WA and SA. As it is, WA has the Force and the Glory. SA only has the Reds (outside of the basketballers).

I guess the parents have to work out for whose benefit they push/direct their kids. The old story of soccer being 'softer' is a bit of a crock - - it's just different. Soccer is murder on the legs from hip down. There's a good reason they wear those massive shin guards.

I often look at Rugby Union and the scrum, and soccer and the header, and think that those are two elements of games that really should be outlawed. In Union, the scrum is part of the schoolboy designs that really don't transcend that well to full grown men. In soccer, the header looks more like a loophole exploited - the rules outlawed handling, but, never stated that a goal MUST be kicked. So,....obvious really, use your head. Not sure I'd want my head somehwere that another fellow might be executing his scissor kick.

At any rate - the challenge for Aust Footy now is probably to run more junior international tours. That, and as the international cup grows - there needs to be generated sponsorship, coverage (TV/Internet streaming) and the city folk need to take a leaf out of the book of the people of Wang and the 'Bool where the community & school kids got heavily involved. Because, if people can't take pride from watching the South African ruckman contesting with the Irish ruckman at the first bounce of an international with no expats.

Gotta say - what annoys me, is that even RL people like to show disdain to our international element. And yet, outside of Eng, NZ and Aust, it falls away real quick. PNG is just ahead. Other RL nations often tend to leverage off RU, for example in Scandanavia - Norway saw RL started effectivel as a 2nd tier competition to an existing RU competition. Then RL advocates claim the Norway vs Malta as a full internatinal. Malta named a squad of 36, including 19 Maltese based players. The rest, parentage qualifications from around the world. This though is basically the WC criteria of the other codes.

At some point - I guess the international cup has to merge into a world cup. At what point can Brad Moran captain England, or Mal Michael captain PNG? How good would Fiji be with Carlile, Rodan and Naitanui. Obviously there's many impediments.

So, at what point does Australia play the rest of the world? The top 10 players from the International Cup plus the top dozen AFL based players of heavy multicultural background?? Something to become a more apparent flag ship for the 'movement' so to speak.

Adelaide-born Rhodes Scholar kicking goals with Oxford Uni
Authored by: TimSmith on Tuesday, November 30 2010 @ 05:21 am ACDT

Hi all,

Back to original story, both the interviews put on roar were conducted by an aussie London-based student after our match vs. Oxford Uni a couple of weeks ago (coincidentally was our first ever 18-a-side fixture only 10 months after our first fixture in January 2010, going down 92-34 but a fantastic game and great learning curve for us).

She wrote the article on me based on a very rushed 3 or 4 minute conversation as after the match we were busy sinking the beers and forgot there was a poor lass wanting interviews from us both (myself and Sam)! As a result, loads of the facts on the article on UK as general are wrong (must have got them from ARUK website, which we know now is defunct) but the gist that things are moving in a general trend upwards is there, although all the comments seemed to tag onto the rugby rejects line which translated into text very badly!

The article on Sam though is absolute class, and no wonder they brushed us aside with 4 or 5 players of his pedigree. Don't even know how we were in the game!!

Just for reference, the full scores of the uni games that have happened so far this season in the UK:

13th Nov (9-a-side)
Cambridge University - 4.8(32) 7.13(55) 10.20(80) 10.22(82)
UoB Sharks - 5.5(34) 7.12(54) 12.16(88) 13.17(95)

20th Nov (18-a-side)
Oxford Uni - 5.2(32) 8.3 (51) 12.6(78) 14.8 (92)
Bham Uni - 2.2(14) 4.3(27) 4.3(27) 5.4(34)

Oxford & Cambridge have not played yet and will not until the new year. We are supposed to be playing Leeds Met Uni this week but unfortunately it will probably have to be cancelled due to very early snow and frozen pitches in the UK at the moment!

Tim Smith
President - University of Birmingham Sharks