First, Usain Bolt is brought to Central Coast Mariners for a trial to create a circus! Oh, and by the way he is apparently being treated like any other A-League triallist. But I’m not sure I know of any other triallist who got the ok to go to France for a week, three weeks into his trial to run in a zero-gravity chamber.  Maybe I missed the other news story?! 

Then, we make an announcement that the A-League will trial controlled flares alongside music for substitutions, corners and goal kicks. Oh … and make the announcement during the long pre-season which has been filled with countless negative stories around poor governance and political drama. And in case you missed it, the 2017-18 A-League season was one of the lowest performing seasons in A-League history in terms of attendance and TV viewership.

In defence of FFA, these ideas are apparently based on market research insights from fans. According to the news report, the research indicated that fans wanted more entertainment pre-game, half time and throughout the match. 

But my question is: how do fans want to be entertained? Did the survey ask this? And if so, did the answers say ‘flares and music’?!  I very much doubt it.  

With this in mind, will controlled flares and music assist in attracting new fans to the game? Absolutely not. Will controlled flares and music turn authentic fans away? Absolutely yes. 

Perhaps FFA should instead focus on improving the product: it’s called football and it’s known around the world as the beautiful round ball game. It is a game that can be mesmerising, free flowing, fast, furious, tactical, technical and guess what … all of these attributes make it entertaining!Authentic fans love the game for these reasons alone. 

FFA also stated that they would like to grow active fan bases across all clubs as they are the fans that contribute to the noise, colour and atmosphere on matchdays. I wholeheartedly agree and think this should be a priority area of focus. But I am at a loss to understand how controlled flares and music will bring new active fans to the game. In my opinion, it will have the opposite impact and turn them away. Let’s put it in simple terms: 

The reaction on Twitter has been extremely negative from players, pundits and fans alike.  

Interestingly, the only person I could see supporting this 'initiative' from FFA was the journalist who was given the story in the first place. He said on Twitter that it was “for the kids”, but it is unclear whether it was children or adults who participated in the market research. 

My first reaction after reading this news story was one of disbelief. My second thought was something along the lines of 'this is the final straw now. I don’t think I can watch any A-League ever again’. And I’m a football loving crazy fan. This makes me very sad as I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who will be reaching for the off button. 

Call me a traditionalist, but when a substitution is made, I would like to hear the announcement. Why? Because after the announcement, I will most likely turn to my friends and have a conversation about why I think the sub has been made; perhaps pose the question, 'would you have made the same change? Do you think it's a good tactical decision and so on?' I certainly don't want to hear music at this time. 

If only knowledgeable 'football people' were at the helm, they would know that this is a ridiculous idea. They would also realise that the objective should be to attract more authentic fans to the A-League teams by delivering an authenic football experience. Why? So the new fans fall in love with the GAME, not a song!

Almost 18 months ago, I wrote about how to get bums on seats and keep them there. Perhaps now is a good time to re-visit some of these ideas. 

In December last year, I posed the question Is the A-League dead’? My conclusion at the time was ‘not yet, but in it’s current format, I don’t think it’s got much life left’. 

Fast forward to September 2018 and sadly, unless there are drastic changes very soon, I believe the A-League in its present set-up is very close to dying.

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Categories: Opinion | A-League

a-league, sport marketing

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