Saturday, 23 July 2011

Rugger building slower than Football?

Union and Football are the two codes trying/needing to increase their foothold in Australia.

Both have seen their domestic games take a fall in recent years - first Union with the short-lived ARC and then football with the demise of a number of A-League clubs.

Union fell first - but may have picked itself up quickest - not least with the support of the international S15.

Melbourne Rebels followed Western Force into the S15 - suddenly Union has Five domestic teams in an expanding competition spread across the country. Something to build on you'd think. Although still a short season and one that couldn't provide enough opportunity for our footballers it's interesting to see Union emerging from it's dark days - albeit on the field the recent loss to Samoa shows we're still a basket case and a long way away from World Cup domination.

Maybe climate change can see an influx of Islanders into Australia!

For football we now have an extended off-season. We've taken a few hits and are regrouping. With Murdoch hindsight we clearly went too hard too early thinking the notion of the World Game would mean we could play all year in Australia and roll in the fans - NRL or no AFL!

This year is crucial - but if you listen to the AFL and NRL expansions plans maybe we have further hits and a shorter season still to come!

We need to build a strong product, slowly. It won't be easy, we're a fickle lot and when you see fans in the NRL and AFL clubs dropping in their tens of thousands when their club plummets what chance fans will hang around at say, Perth Glory, once the you fat bastards come out to play!

Having won the first round, the AFL and NRL are not short of funds and will be well aware of the need to push football further into October if they can - whilst at the same time providing further TV exposure for their own codes.

Each code will want more clubs - an extended season if possible.

Long-term, Football needs to fill August and September?

The off-season is way way too long - the runarounds against local clubs is quaint but over two weeks not two months.

We've failed to fill August and September with the A-League quickly running back into our piggy banks - and there's lots of space.

So what can we do?

The FFA Cup is the obvious idea - games played throughout August/September at local/regional grounds.....with quarters onwards thru October - December maybe.

Given the crowds at the likes of Brisbane Roar friendlies this could be a strong opportunity to put some real zest into these games. A place in Asia wouldn't hurt for the winners either. Maybe they could wing it so the team could start in Asia in the follwing March as well - not twelve months later!

Perhaps we need to get the Socceroos into some serious competition, (not the Euroboys of course but the home based ones) - certainly they could play in July in any or many of the competitions across the World in non-World Cup years you would think. A guest entry in the Gold Cup would be nice. Could we develop our own Cup - a la the Gold Cup, the Bledisloe, or East Asian, South Asian whatever. It has to be sustainable, perhaps bi-annual, but something we can build.

It's not an easy problem to solve but our players and fans need something through July or August, something competitive, if we are going to have this massive break each year. Of course a run in the Asian Champions League would help, it restarts in August/September - bring on the second tier for the first round Aussie losers! Shades of the Europa Cup in time maybe.

What it will be that can extend our domestic season and interest?

I'll get back to you but we're short on ideas and cash at this stage it seems.

If we fail we can expect the A-League not just to be a feeder league for Europe and China/Korea but for every other league in Asia and the World as well. Footballers might not want 11 months football but the market demands it.

Ask Lionel Messi, currently back from his Champions League high in May - he's been running his little legs out for Argentina already.

Add in Celtic who start their league this weekend and you get the picture across the World.

We don't want that much football but somehow we need a little more. We just need to find a way to fund the Socceroos increased number of games - or A-League club alternatives!

1 comment:

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