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Kewell to grow Victory into 'Super Club'

by John Iannantuono on Sep 01, 2011

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Just as you’d find it difficult to agree with anything Rebecca Wilson has to say about the world game, so too would it be challenging to find any common ground in debating against Melbourne Victory’s standing as the biggest club in the A-League.

Since the inaugural A-League season, home attendances for the Melbourne club have been healthy, while strong membership numbers has placed the Victory in an envious position among its A-League counterparts.

No other club can lay claim to attracting more than 50,000 to a home and away fixture, while you’ll be hard-pressed to find a club anywhere near the Victory’s 18,000-plus membership base set in recent years.

And that’s before the club’s on-field success has been taken into account.

The prized acquisition of Harry Kewell will no doubt increase interest in the club and if it plays its cards right, Melbourne Victory could position itself as one of the biggest clubs in the Australian sporting landscape.

Big call? Perhaps. But it’s not so far-fetched.

As we’ve already established, the Victory has very strong foundations. It’s still top dog in the state, while the majority of non-football people in the city* (based on my survey) also seem to have Victory as their default team.

Attracting and converting these so-called fence sitters to paying matchday attendees will be crucial if the Victory is to cement its place among the elite brass of Australian sport. The biggest clubs in the land all share the same story of a mass following derived from organic growth. This could be attributed to a particular club’s era of success, however it’s also down to a generational following.

Take Melbourne’s three biggest AFL clubs, for example: Collingwood, Essendon and Carlton. All three entered the then VFL in 1897, and as a result, attracted fans based on their geographical positioning. All three clubs have amassed generational followings that have swelled in numbers over time, while those that entered the landscape in later years (North Melbourne, for example), have always struggled to challenge the established order with its fan base, which, consequently, is linked to their financial hardships.

The Victory — with Harry in hand — now finds itself in a prime position to leverage off their sizable following and star recruit by locking in the “yet-to-be-converted” and securing an established supporter base for generations to come. And the five-game membership package available for the Victory’s blockbuster clashes at Etihad Stadium appears to be the kicker.

If the theory is true that great clubs are supported by a foundation of strong generational following, then the Victory is destined to become Australian football’s first power club.