An end-of-season sentiment survey of the A-League by readers of Football Today has shown that most A-League fans apportion blame for what went wrong with their club this past season equally between the coach and management.

But when it comes to who’s to blame for the worst thing about the season overall fingers are well and truly pointed at FFA by 75% of respondents. More than three-in-ten (31%) apportioned blame to the media, while A-League clubs (27%) and Fans (20%) were also culpable.

The online sentiment survey was completed by 945 respondents earlier this month. Two-thirds (67%) of the respondents were members of an A-League club while 7% did not support the A-League at all.

Overall A-League issues

Amongst those who were most upset with FFA, the biggest concern was not the fan stand-off towards the end of 2015 as a result of the leak of information related to Western Sydney Wanderers fans. Instead, respondents were more concerned about the lack of promotion and marketing of the competition, the poor television ratings and what was seen as “inadequate free-to-air coverage” by many. 

“Some weeks it reminded me of the NSL. You’d hardly know a game was on,” said Neil, a Newcastle Jets member. “I don’t just mean locally, as our media is pretty good, but I travel a lot and you hardly ever hear or see anything about the A-League.”

Many respondents (35%) were also concerned that the quality of the competition did not improve in 2015-16, although conversely – and somewhat typically of football fans - a handful of respondents said they thought the quality was the best it’s been. 

“Playing games on poor pitches and in temperatures that stop quality football being played do not help,” said Tim Jenkins, a Sydney FC member. “These two issues will hinder the development of our kids stepping into the A-League.”

A significant number of respondents (47%) believe expansion is essential, saying that the A-League is suffering because “it’s a bit boring playing the same teams year-in, year-out three times over.”

Promotion and relegation was specifically mentioned by 15% of respondents. “I can’t see a pathway for my club so I don’t think I’ll ever be engaged in the A-League,” said Katina from Melbourne.

However, for all the critical comment, there was also a lot to be pleased about with respondents citing the Sydney and Melbourne derbies, exciting finals series, Adelaide United’s come-from-behind-win and the closeness of the top 6 as highlights of the season. The contribution of Bruno Fornaroli and Luis Garcia was noted by more than a quarter of respondents (26%), including supporters of other clubs.

The idea of FFA assisting clubs with a ‘marquee fund’ or similar received spontaneous support by one-third of respondents.

“FFA should assist to bring in a better standard of marquees, so there is some excitement generated about the season. Bruno Fornaroli was exceptional this season and I say ‘well done’ to Melbourne City for bringing him,” said one Sydney FC fan.

Club-specific issues

  • Not surprisingly, Adelaide United fans (10% of respondents who follow the A-League) had little to complain about in terms of their club although one pointed to “disastrous PR of the Premier’s Plate presentation”.
  • Brisbane Roar fans (4%) were happy with “just about everything” after the pre-season, and admitted they exceeded expectations.
  • Central Coast fans (5%) expressed high dissatisfaction levels with the club, the financial situation it faces, the owner and the coach.
  • Melbourne City fans (8%) were happy with getting to the finals but most thought the club should have done better once they got there, especially with the quality of players available. All but two respondents expressed dissatisfaction about Stefan Mauk’s transfer to Adelaide United.
  • Melbourne Victory fans (22%) were the most balanced with their view. One under-18 fan said he was happy that the club had maintained its attendance levels “and was competitive in the A-League, FFA Cup and the ACL”. Others would like to see more flexibility in tactics next season but acknowledge coach Kevin Muscat “is developing”.
  • The overwhelming feeling from Newcastle Jets fans (5%) was one of relief that the Tinkler era is over and that coach, Scott Miller, had brought back some professionalism and pride to the club. They are concerned that the sale of the club has not yet been finalised.
  • Perth Glory fans (4%) were happy with the run at the end of the season but believe there is still a lot to get right. “The finals went horrible. The attendance was horrific. The entertainment at the venue. The club must look to the EPL and see what they do before games and at half time and not play the songs they play at Glory because it's appalling,” said Nicholas Pulverenti.
  • The most disgruntled fans were Sydney FC supporters (24%) with “poor recruitment and poor squad selection” nominated by three-quarters of Sydney FC fans as their major gripe.  “Poor coaching, poor players and no stars to entice me. The dour play meant I stayed away,” said Toni Mino. On the plus side, supporters appreciated Sydney FC’s Asian Champions League performances but one fan noted that he would “rather win the A-League than the ACL as I’m just not that into ACL as much as I try.”
  • Wellington Phoenix fans (6%) were unanimously happy about the 10-year license extension, but also unanimously critical of FFA. According to Brandon Clarke: “The FFA tried to kill us off. It ripped the heart out of our season on the field, and our crowd numbers off the field. It did damage to our supporter base that will take years to recover from.”
  • The publication of fans’ personal details in the Sydney media towards the end of last year was not seen as a club issue by Western Sydney Wanderers fans (12%). They were mostly satisfied with the season but expressed the need for a better marquee and improved scouting of a marquee player. “If that takes money, then it’s money well spent,” said Sam Khoury.

Part II:  Who A-League fans voted for as player and coach of the year, and what they’re doing in the off-season.

Categories: Analysis | A-League

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