What the A-League Men needs to do to attract more fans from regional areas

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The A-League Men has experienced a gradual decrease in popularity over the years, and most prominently in regional areas.

With no teams in the league hailing from a regional area or town, bar perhaps Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners, there is a real lack of representation of the league in areas other than capital cities.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what the A-League Men could do to attract more fans from regional areas.

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More games in regional areas

Whilst some may think it strange, the ALM has ventured into regional areas in the past. Despite no teams hailing from those areas, we have seen games played in regional towns before.

We’ve seen an Adelaide ‘home’ game in Bathurst, Melbourne Heart vs Perth Glory in Albury and Wellington Phoenix travel 800km from home to play in Dunedin.

In a push to attract more fans from regional areas, first and foremost we need to see more games played in those areas.

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With teams already having to travel all over the country for away games, there’s no harm in seeing both sides travel to a regional area for a match.

In fact, there are plenty of stadiums in regional areas that are up to the task of hosting an ALM or ALW game. These include Lavington Sports Ground in Albury, Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo, Eureka Stadium in Ballarat, and Wade Park in Orange.

With games having already been played in regional areas, there’s no reason for this not to continue and it would very well attract from fans from those regional towns and cities.

More affordable streaming options 

There have been plenty of criticisms hailed at Network 10 and Paramount+ this season. From delays to ad breaks to no playback or pause option, the criticisms have been aplenty.

Another criticism of the streaming service is the cost. With most people already subscribed to Netflix, Stan, and Disney+, the prospect of paying for another service to watch football was nearly the straw that broke the camel’s back.

At $8.99 a month, Paramount+ is one of the cheaper streaming services available, however, with most fans subscribing to the service purely for football, the cost isn’t worth it.

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When it comes to attracting more fans from regional areas, a cheaper streaming alternative could be the answer. In light of the Covid pandemic, many people are not willing to spend their money on things that they may have in the past.

However, a cheaper plan, perhaps one with access to the A-League only, could be a viable option for enticing fans and viewers in regional areas to watch the game.

More affordable tickets

As fans are already asked to pay a premium to watch most games on a streaming service rather than free-to-air TV, some of the ticket prices we have seen this season have been laughable.

In the context of the pandemic, people are becoming stricter with their money, and are less likely to spend their hard-earned cash on over-priced tickets.

This season we saw Macarthur attempt to charge $30 for junior tickets, which drew significant backlash from the football community given a junior is classified as anyone aged from four to 15.

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For fans travelling to games from regional areas, there is no room to be charging such exorbitant prices.

For many, travelling to games from regional areas means having to pay for accommodation for a night plus petrol to travel to and from games. Given the current price of petrol, there’s no way these fans are also going to want to be paying a premium for tickets.

Of course, making tickets free is not economically viable for the league, however, a reduction in price could see more regional fans willing to travel to games.

The lowering of ticket prices is a necessary step to re-engaging regionals fans and enticing them into attending games.

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Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Grace Clegg
Covering the Newcastle Jets for the 2021/22 season. Studying a Bachelor of Communication (News Media and PR) at the University of Newcastle. Coffee addict.

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