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Where are the fans?

by Ashley Morrison on Apr 12, 2012

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In my last blog, I wrote of my concerns for football in the West, should Perth Glory be unable to sell out their first final at home against Melbourne Heart.

They did not manage to do so. Only 12,600 attended NIB Stadium, a ground that holds close to 19,000.

After a 3-0 victory over the Heart, one expected a capacity crowd to push through the turnstiles when they took on Wellington Phoenix a week later.

For Perth Glory, it was a chance for revenge over a side that had eliminated them on penalties in their first finals appearance, yet once again the ground was not full, the crowd had increased to only 13,695.

On both occasions the Western Force Super 15 side had played the night before the Glory game, at the same ground. On both occasions, and with the Force sitting at the bottom of the Australian Conference, they attracted bigger crowds. In fact, the game the day before the Wellington Phoenix game was a sell out.

So why are football fans not flocking to the ground to support their local team in one sport but are turning out in droves for another?

Some will say that we should not compare the two codes, as in Super Rugby you are watching the highest level of the game below internationals, something that could not be said about the A League.

The scheduling of the match at 5.30pm on a Saturday when the State League competition had started a few weeks earlier may not have helped, yet Football West brought the kick-off times forward by an hour to try and help.

Some will say there was little or no marketing of the game, which is an argument that carries some weight, but surely such a game should not require that much marketing.

Linked to marketing comes the presence that the club has in the community, in Perth, Fremantle and Western Australia as a whole. It is sadly true that the place the club used to hold in people’s minds, compared to where it sits now, are poles apart.

I fear that the fans feel that they are being taken for fools. The A-League is a unique competition, it is our Australian league, and it should be branded and promoted as such. Football fans are not idiots; they can watch the top leagues around the world on an almost daily basis. They know what good football is and which players have talent.

The fact that Perth Glory failed to fill the stadium for either of its finals games should be sounding alarm bells as to the promotion of the club and the game, and the reasons why people are no longer going to watch games needs to found, but most of all there needs to be some honesty. The fans want to be respected.