There’s no need to worry about A-League Men crowd numbers just yet

-

There is no need to panic at the recent A-League Men crowd figures. The numbers might not look as great as they once did, but there are reasons why we shouldn’t worry.

If we provide a great product, the masses will flock to consume it. This season has been relatively bland in terms of matches and import signings. Yet, as a result of the Paramount takeover, there is more optimism than recent times at the overall growth potential of the A-Leagues.

Rather than worrying about the demise in crowd numbers, we should be excited about the success of the league despite numerous obstacles.

Embed from Getty Images

We shouldn’t have to remind people that Western Sydney Wanderers – formerly the best supported club in the land – haven’t made the finals in six seasons and are currently facing turmoil between fan groups and club leadership.

Secondly, Covid-related financial restraints have seen clubs choose not to make any big-name signings, aside from Daniel Sturridge. Not only that, but local stars such as Stefan Mauk, Ben Halloran and Nathaniel Atkinson have recently been poached by overseas clubs.

Games are constantly being postponed and re-worked amidst the daily Covid-struggles that we face in Australia. Teams are unable to play matches in Perth, and over the past two rounds, seven of the scheduled 12 games have been postponed. This doesn’t include a number of FFA Cup matches too.

Embed from Getty Images

With Covid cases growing and matchdays remaining fluid, it has made it difficult for fans to regularly attend games this season.

Despite this, the A-League Men has seen over 65,000 more fans watch its matches live, than at the Big Bash League.

When compared to the National Basketball League, this number rises to 85,000 more fans.

Let’s have a look at these numbers in a bit more detail.

Prior to Covid-19 the Big Bash League had average attendances of 26,528 in 2017-18 and 20,554 in 2018-19. Comparing that to the season currently underway, there have been 18 matches played so far in which crowd figures have been released.

Embed from Getty Images

As of this season, the average attendance has been 9,063. The obvious anomaly was the Melbourne derby between the Stars and Renegades that drew 21,562 people, clearly the most-attended game of the competition.

As we can see, post-pandemic crowds are yet to reach the heights of pre-Covid. People are reluctant to attend live sport, and it’s not a problem limited to just football fans.

We can also look at this through the National Basketball League. Prior to Covid-19 the average attendance in 2017-18 was 6,470 and then 6,615 during the 2018-19 season.

Embed from Getty Images

Yet, as seen with the BBL, crowd figures are down this season. Across 24 games, the average attendance is 5,989.

This figure would be massively reduced if not for the Perth Wildcats. Their four games at home this season have drawn an average crowd of 11,915. Aside from them, only five other games have drawn a crowd above 5,000.

Some may paint it as a sorry picture for the league, but in reality, it’s just the adjustment period post-pandemic.

Now, we can finally have a look at the A-League Men. The 2017-18 season had an average crowd of 10,912 whilst the following year saw 10,864 people come through the gates on average.

Embed from Getty Images

Admittedly, attendances this season have been down. On average 7,441 people have attended each game this season. This number has also been boosted by the 19,640 that attended the Melbourne derby and 23,118 that attended the Sydney derby.

However, it’s also important to note that this is an impressive number considering the stadium debacles that have occurred this season.

Wellington Phoenix have yet to play a game in New Zealand, and have therefore seen average home crowds of 1,730.

Embed from Getty Images

Similarly, Macarthur’s stadium debacle has seen them play in several different stadiums in this young season so far.

Western United are in the same boat, having to play in Ballarat, Melbourne, Geelong and also Tasmania this season.

Compared to other domestic sports on a similar timeline to the A-League Men, the competition is performing the best of the three. Now is not the time to panic.

If attendances continue to plateau over the next five years, then perhaps some of the negative articles should be considered valid, but until then they do nothing but spread undue criticism.

We are living in unprecedented times and the competition will continue to evolve as people continue to navigate through the pandemic.

Embed from Getty Images

In terms of the Australian sporting landscape, we haven’t seen investments into football such as the ones made over the past six months in a very long time. Things are looking up for the first times in recent memory.

The issues being faced are a sign of the times rather than a football-specific problem. The sooner that people understand this, the less worry there will be.

The football movement has started and it’s time to get on board rather than sitting in the corner and criticising.

Crowd statistics sourced from: http://austadiums.com/

Feature image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Dillon Izon
Marketing graduate at Monash University. Sports addicted, fan of Manchester United and Melbourne City. My gran “knows” Gareth Bale.

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required