Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sydney FC – The Balance Sheet, Part 2
Average Crowds (regular season):
That’s right, down by an average of about 1,700 per game.
Terry Butcher’s “drab, defensive and cautious” style, then?
Well…there were some other factors.
Dwight Yorke was the face of the A-League in Season 1, without question. His glinting smile was to be seen accompanying any number of newspaper stories and colour supplement puff pieces, and he was featured prominently in Sydney FC publicity.
When he departed, the champions lost their major drawcard.
Then there was the World Cup Factor.
After reaching a lull towards the middle of the season, Sydney FC’s crowds in Season 1 were boosted in the weeks surrounding the unforgettable 16th of November. The mid-season game against Perth, immediately following the triumph at Homebush, attracted a crowd of over 16,000, who witnessed a dismal 0-0 draw.
In the same round, a year later to the day, a crucial top-of-the-table encounter attracted 2,000 fewer patrons.
The dire football Sydney FC produced early in Season 2 had its effect on attendances, no doubt. But to pretend that this was the only factor – as some have done – is disingenuous.
Longest run of consecutive games in NSW:
And that’s not all. The sequence of nine games within easy reach of Parklea this season was followed by a game in Melbourne, an hour’s flight away, and then…three more games in NSW.
And, not surprisingly, Sydney’s nine-game unbeaten run occurred during that period.
Defensive firmness, and the return to fitness of certain key players, certainly contributed to that impressive series of results. But would Butcher’s men have achieved the same with the rigours of travel thrown in?
The five-game NSW-only sequence in 2005/06 produced a similar unbeaten run (three wins and two draws, for the record). The three NSW clubs are obviously going to encounter these travel-free periods from time to time, but Sydney’s extraordinary “home run” through October and November was something of a one-off…and a considerable blessing.
Who are the real draw card teams for Sydney? I'd say Melbourne, Adelaide, Central Coast and perhaps Newcastle. All these teams played twice in Sydney in 2005-2006, meaning they would only do so once (in the regular season) in 2006-2007. Those who have played twice this time around are New Zealand (enough said), Perth (no longer anything like the draw card they were in the NSL) and Queensland (who've curiously been the lowest drawing away team across the board in 2005-2006 and one of the lowest in 2006-2007). The club has also had to play its first non-Friday/Saturday/Sunday game. Not a nice draw for Sydney at all from a crowd POV.
We'll see SFC's crowds bounce back up in 2007-2008 IMO, although I'm sure most will automatically attribute it to attractive football if Sydney do start playing better stuff, and particulary if Butcher gets sacked and some Dutch/French/Brazilian/etc. wizard comes in.
Cecilia over at Girl's Guide to the A-League has I think stumbled upon a more basic theory, though she hasn't yet made the connection with crowd sizes. You have touched upon this reason yourself Mike with your reference to Dwight Yorke.
She is on a quest to find the Best Looking Bloke in the A-League. Personally I think it's a worthy project, and should be developed commercially as a boost to the game. It's entertainment after all, and there's no doubt that the English game is greatly aided by the swooning girls factor. Needless to say if the chicks go to the games the blokes do follow.
I met David Carney on Friday night and he really is not an attractive man. Can't really speak for the others in Sydney FC but it is emerging in Cecilia's little competition that the Roar are by far the team to make 'em cream.
With all respect to the football experts, this is in all seriousness more likely to have an effect on crowds than a particular style of play.
Say you played, I dunno, Queensland again. Another 14-16k crowd.
It's not far off, is it?
I'm not so sure. Marketing-wise, SFC have been far less "visible" this season, and with the approach of the new board, I can see that carrying on into 07/08. Hope I'm wrong though.
...I met David Carney on Friday night and he really is not an attractive man. Can't really speak for the others in Sydney FC but it is emerging in Cecilia's little competition that the Roar are by far the team to make 'em cream....
Yeah, there ain't no oil paintings at Sydney FC!
...There were only ten games this year, Mikey, as opposed to 11 last season....
Don't quite see your point, beeds. I took the average (i.e. /11 for 05/06, /10 for 06/07).
Whatever gets said, true or not, still goes a long way to determining the crowd roll up.
Although I think that Queensland had a nice game to watch at times, making it easier on the eye for the non-football fan.
...though she hasn't yet made the connection with crowd sizes.
It's funny to note that the four forums most actively participating in the polls that I've set up all over the place belong to teams that are in the top 5 with respect to their attendance record (and position on ladder...) However, Queensland have only 8 votes posted so far (the top 4 have about 30 or more). This is probably due to the Queensland forum being relatively dead, perhaps people in Brisbane actually have lives?
I think Hamish is right in that finding good-looking players could be effectively used in marketing the game, especially to people who are not familiar with the game. As much as I can''t stand Gibson, I thought the first season campaign featuring the players was more effective than the robot one for this season (version 2.0). The fact that the first season one ended up being resued (with different music) confirms this. The campaign does need to be updated, with neither Gibson nor Ferrante getting much game time this season, but still featured prominantly in the ad. Perhaps the use of players from the most supported teams could also be handy, but as has been said, there ain't no oil paintings at Sydney FC!
Sydney needs a 'face' for their team, and currently it seems to be that of Butcher, who is usually dour. I suspect that if a survey of fans was done to compare who attended matches b/w the two seasons, it would be randoms who dropped off. If this is true, then marketing needs to figure out what to do.
One squirms whenever he suggests football isn’t about entertaining and only about winning ugly.
He was at it again the other day suggesting finals football wasn’t about entertaining football!
Hardly encouraging for the neutrals to turn out to a FC game......
He still doesn’t get it, Football in Sydney, fighting from being “crowded out” in a saturated competitive market
Is about the ‘E’ word.
Der ball ist rund!
Just checkin' up on ya, Mike.
I keep on hearing about what Butcher says, but what his team does appears to be different. It was Farina who dropped his bundle and played long ball on Saturday, whereas Sydney scored one of the best ball-to-feet goals of the season.
The season just gets more intriguing, for me at least.
I think he has improved a little in that department. Early on I don't think he realised what a marginal position football occupied in the Oz sporting culture, and that therefore it needed to be presented as more than just a slugfest. IMO some people within the club have taken him aside and spelt out some home truths. Having said that, he does still dwell on the fight rhetoric a bit much for mine.
When all's said and done, though, would you really prefer Littbarski's strangulated press efforts?
That said, there seems to be some significant differences between Melbourne crowds and Sydney crowds and what motivates them.
I am a migrant so I do not enough knowledge to explain the reasons for this but some of the reasons you give for low crowds in Sydney simply would not apply here in Melbourne.
People here go to see the Victory they do not go to see a particular player (ala Yorke last year over there), the idea of a marquee player is frowned upon here. The crowds in Melbourne were up from the start of the season even though Melb finished 7th last year. They did not go down even though Victory results in TD were pretty disappointing (even the boring 0-0 against Sydney did not have a bad effect although casual goers were a little disappointed). Clearly having many home games in a row or games on different days does not have as much an effect here: we got approx 20k against Perth on a Thursday which was also Oaks day and 30k on a match against the Roar which had no significance at all and clashed with the first One day cricket match against England at the MCG.
Regardless of what happens in the finals MVFC will imo have 15k-18k members next year.
I would love to know why the differences between the two cities are so big and I really hope that Sydney does better job of bringing people to the football next year.
"We'll see SFC's crowds bounce back up in 2007-2008 IMO, although I'm sure most will automatically attribute it to attractive football if Sydney do start playing better stuff, and particulary if Butcher gets sacked and some Dutch/French/Brazilian/etc. wizard comes in."
What else will they attribute it too ?
"I keep on hearing about what Butcher says, but what his team does appears to be different. It was Farina who dropped his bundle and played long ball on Saturday, whereas Sydney scored one of the best ball-to-feet goals of the season."
Couldn't understand Qlds long ball game either - seems the trend is once the clock get to 75 mins the long ball gets used regardless of other opportunity. With a man advantage the long ball shouldn't have come into Qlds game until about the 90th. Frankie always has been a giant on tactics though.
The Roar got better crowds that Sydney this year and yet have only won 4 from 21 games at home in 2 seasons.
Sydney drew 8 games - the most in the A-League by 2 games. Their style leads to draws. And to make the finals this is better than a loss. But I think fans would rather sit on the edge of their seats and wonder (like we do at the Roar - ha ha).
When I played it was home one week - away the next - so much better for planning and consistency for fans rocking up to games.
I am concerned that the A-League is not quite the priority it was last season in terms of quality pitches.
Seriously though has the clubs marketing approach been that much different from last year? I wouldn't have thought so. There's been plenty of stories and media scrutiny (usually negative) on the club over the season- maybe more this season than last. Quite possibly has had an affect? I mean the number of negative stories surrounding Butcher, his style of coaching and play [Fozzie a case in point seems to relish on this]. La Paglia coming out and saying that Buthcer should be sacked etc. The financial and fitness issues that had surrounded Carbone. Zdrilic publicly bagging his manager for not selecting him in the starting eleven, etc etc- all these media stories would have had negative effects on the club and the consistency it played on the field thus resulting in an overall negative trend in the crowd attendances. Thoughts?
I don't know how much effect all Fozzie's infantile rants have had, but the La Paglia thing was pretty unpleasant. Having said that, the attendances were down even before he opened his big mouth.
Not sure if the marketing has been different this time around, but frankly there hasn't actually been that much to market. Just about all of the marketing last season, when it came down to it, was centered on Yorkie.