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FFA reboot has A-League flying

by Ben Somerford on Oct 28, 2011

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Three weeks into the new A-League season and the competition is flying, smashing attendance records while Fox Sports' live average audiences are well on the up too. It's been exactly what the fledgling competition needed.

Arguably there's a combination of reasons behind the A-League's success this term, with the return of Harry Kewell, along with fellow Socceroo Brett Emerton, the two key contributors.

There's also the perception that the standard of the competition has never been better, with Brisbane Roar setting the bar at a new height, forcing others to improve.

Then there's also the idea that the competition has never looked better, with improved marketing and advertising, individual club uniforms and more quality foreign recruits, plus shrewder club membership programs.

Whatever the case, there's no doubt Football Federation Australia have played their role, by learning from their mistakes and getting the A-League season fixturing right. Firstly, the decision to schedule the season to begin after the AFL and NRL seasons concluded has received a big tick. Secondly, the push for early season blockbusters has worked a treat too. Indeed, the idea behind both of these initiatives has been to start the season with a bang.

The first three weeks of the season have seen some irresistable match-ups, including the Big Blue and Grand Final re-match in Round One, the Adelaide-Victory rivalry clash in Round Two and the Melbourne, F3 and M1 derbies in Round Three.

However, it hasn't only been the blockbusters garnering attention, with only five of the 15 A-League fixtures so far this term seeing crowds below the magical 10,000 figure. The A-League average to this point is marginally below 15,000, which is fantastic for the competition which had seen interest begin to really waver in the past couple of seasons.

To boot, Fox Sports has reported a 62 per cent increase in live average audiences which is a substantial change and emphasises how much attention the A-League is really getting all of a sudden.

However, the challenge for the A-League is to maintain these figures as the 27-round regular season drags on. Given the fact so many blockbusters – which often boost the average attendance figures - have already been played there will be sceptics claiming the numbers will gradually drop.

However, that viewpoint overlooked what the early season blockbusters have done for the A-League up until this point. Indeed, right now, the A-League has plenty of momentum. People are taking notice of the league, talking about the competition, the teams, the players, who's struggling, who's in form.

Plot-lines have already developed, with the star-studded Victory yet to score a goal, both Melbourne clubs yet to claim a win, champions Brisbane looking invincible, last season's runners-up Central Coast struggling, last term's disappointments Perth getting off to a flyer and many more.

The fact that people are aware of these stories, means they will engage with them as the season goes on. After all, who starts reading a book from chapter three?

The idea of starting the A-League with a bang was a shrewd call by the FFA, as it has grabbed people's attention from the start, or chapter one. The bandwagoners may lose interest as the season goes on, but you fancy many newbies will hang around to find out the ending.

So far, so good for the A-League.