Sydney FC showcased just why fans are crying out for boutique stadiums in the A-League during their 1-1 draw with the Central Coast Mariners on Sunday evening.

Sun glowing, wind blowing, and a sea of sky blue. It truly was a picturesque evening at Leichhardt Oval, and seeing the Wayne Pearce Hill packed with fans truly was incredible.

This is what the future of the A-League should look like. This is what clubs should be promoting the shit out of.

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The crowd figure for Sunday evening’s clash was 12,188 – fairly modest, but it looked and sounded like the sell-out it nearly was.

Now put those same 12,000 fans in Allianz Stadium. Empty, dull, and colourless.

Sydney FC have to be congratulated on the way they have approached having games away from Allianz Stadium, their home of 15 years. It was a decision forced upon them, but they have warmed to the opportunity and embraced a fresh start in boutique stadiums.

We’ve already seen the impact boutique stadiums have on clubs in the A-League. Take Sydney’s rivals – the Western Sydney Wanderers for example.

During their opening years, playing out of their home stadium in Parramatta was crucial to their success and club culture. Now, playing out of both Spotless Stadium and ANZ Stadium, the Wanderers have lost the edge they had over nearly everyone else in the league – their fans.

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Their fans are no longer a huge intimidator to opposition players, nor the 12th man every club desires. Obviously, other issues with the FFA have seen the Red and Black Block decrease in numbers, but moving games to ANZ Stadium where the capacity is close to 80,000 is ludicrous.

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Sydney FC showed on Sunday evening what the future of the A-League should look like – and how it can market itself differently from the other codes which saturate the Australian sporting landscape.

There is nothing fans love more than a packed stadium. Ask anyone in Adelaide who has been to a full Coopers Stadium or a ‘Coastie’ during the wonder years attending a packed Central Coast Stadium. Fans would much rather be a part of a sell-out 12,000 venue than a 20,000 crowd in an 80,000-seat stadium. It looks far better on TV, too!

Ultimately, though, it equates to less dollars as there are less ticket sales. But surely it promotes a better look for the game and a strong selling point to get more eyes on the league.

 

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Football writer and radio presenter. Loves everything football (well, except Italian's diving since '06).