Pre-Season

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It is undeniably a huge coup for Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Heart in luring Everton FC to Australia. Thanks to the private promotion company backing Everton’s tour down under, the three teams will not be fronting up any cash for the venture, instead walking away with what is said to be a considerable appearance fee.

This week the prices for the fixtures were released, with tickets going on sale to the public on the 20th of May. The cheapest way to see your team take on a Premier League side will hopefully be to turn on the box and tune to channel One. If the events are not televised, however, the least you will have to front-up is $49.95, with tickets going as high as $139.95 for category Gold. Consider these prices in relation to the cheapest A-league ticket last season, which was generally around $20, and also looking at the highest priced ticket for last years clash between The Roar and Celtic, which was $90.

The high prices, set that way most likely to cover Everton’s exorbidant appearance fee combined with the promoter’s cut, will no doubt have an impact on crowds. Crowds which seem to be of massive importance in Australian football, largely due to their size being seen as indicative of the importance of football in Australia’s sporting landscape. Large crowds, and football is the new national sport, on the rise from the ashes of the NSL and on it’s way to a healthy future. Low crowds, and the A-league is struggling, on the verge of collapse. Why should crowds matter for what are mostly pre-season friendlies? Not for this reason, but almost.

One of the big benefits of having such high profile games before season start is to aid with the membership drive. Sure, it is not one of the intents of the promoter, who will be seeking solely financial gain. But the Sky Blues, the Roar and Heart will all be looking to sign new members at these showcase games. How then, is it beneficial for these teams to have an overpriced event that will in all probability out-price a large number of potential new members, and disenfranchising them as a result? Will even the promoter be happy, if the crowd numbers are drastically affected by a backlash reaction, thus lowering revenue?
This said, perhaps this will all be proved false speculation, and each of the three games will garner large spectators, a large number of new memberships, and large profits. But, afterall, this is what the pre-season is about – speculation.

It can be agreed that the publicity gathered from these games, in the middle of the seasons of both the AFL and NRL, will be great. Both domestically and internationally the clubs versing Everton and their franchises will be furthered – or at least now be known to die-hard Everton fans, intently following their teams pre-season endevours in such strange countries as “Australia”. Hopefully dometically the continued games against Premier League competition will help to bridge the gap between football fans that refuse to watch the A-league because of it’s inferiority to all that is European. Hopefully this is furthered by the close scores of these matches, and the win that Sydney FC will undoubtedly obtain.

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Matt Greenlaw
Editor of The Football Sack for three years, Matthew now spends his time sipping merlot whilst watching the reruns of Thursday FC.

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