Will the A-League’s crowded house last?

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Neil Sherwin believes that some people are getting too excited too soon about this season’s A-League attendances.

The Den. Credit: Brisbane Roar

“Bigger than Brazil” has a nice ring to it when talking about any aspect of the beautiful game, and it’s a phrase that has been pounced upon by the pro-football media with regard to the average attendances for Hyundai A-League games so far this season.

At 15,560, the league’s average comes in 14th on a list of top leagues around the globe (according to the Brisbane Times), one spot ahead of the South American giants who are sitting on 14,693.

While this is a feel good story coming off the back of strong starts by marquee players Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and, to a lesser extent, Shinji Ono, shouting from the roof tops after just four rounds strikes me as being very premature.

The initial buzz around the aforementioned players will die down, make no mistake about it, while early season games such as the opening weekend clash between Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory have provided a nice buffer.

The key lines in the previously mentioned article are as follows –

“Should the A-League maintain its early-season speed, it remains on track to beat attendances in Turkey, Scotland, Russia, Belgium, Korea and Portugal. At the moment, it is the 14th most attended league in world football.”

Now while that sounds impressive, there is simply very little chance of that happening.

It’s a long season, and with more than 20 rounds of games still to be played, I expect that figure of 15k+ to be as good as it gets from here on in.

With Perth Glory, Adelaide United, Melbourne Heart, Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners all hovering around a 10k average for their home gates so far, there could be some lean times ahead when the majority of them play at home in the same gameweek.

What is a realistic aim though?

Well, consistent growth is the most important thing, and the league’s average attendance figure grew by over 2000 between the end of last season and the campaign before, an improvement following a drop on 2009/10 –

2009/10 – 9,831

2010/11 – 8,393

2011/12 – 10,490

Another increase of 2000, pushing the average to in and around a respectable 12,500, is a much more realistic target and I would much prefer to spin a whole season’s attendances come April rather than just one month’s worth.

It’s important to say that this article isn’t an attempt to run down what is a great start to the new season; more so an attempt to put a bit of perspective on things if and when there is a drop in the average as we head in to November.

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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