Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Substitute Australian for American, and you have the attitude of the FFA concerning the recently-announced friendly between Sydney FC and LA Galaxy in November.
The general reaction to the announcement has been jubilant in Sydney, sour in Melbourne, and warmly positive elsewhere. Good publicity, profits shared throughout the league (apparently), and a chance to put the A-League on the map.
My own reaction is a little more sanguine.
Firstly, I just can’t fathom what is in it for the American club. The visit is clearly about David Beckham first, second and last. The opportunity for LA Galaxy to build their brand is absolutely minimal, in my view. The FFA are apparently underwriting the trip (more questions to be asked there), so presumably the Americans won’t actually lose money on it. But it’s a considerable inconvenience, and there is the risk of injury.
Secondly, there’s the question of whether Telstra Stadium will sell out, especially given that the match is apparently to be screened on free-to-air TV (one wonders what was paid for a midweek football game of no competitive significance, only made marketable by the presence of one player).
Back to the H.L.Mencken quote. The FFA clearly hope that people will come for the face if not the football.
But will they? I don’t feel that the Sydney sporting public are fools. Obviously Beckham is a drawcard, but if the ticket prices are on the steep side and the match is on free-to-air…
People complained that the crowd for the Socceroos’ friendly against Turkey in Sydney in 2004 was overwhelmingly of Turkish extraction. Given the absurd ticket prices demanded for that match, it was hardly a surprise; Sydney’s Turkish population would have turned out en masse regardless of the price, but the hard-nosed consumers understandably preferred to catch the game on TV.
Hakan Sukur is not quite in the same league as David Beckham as a crowd-puller, of course. But have the FFA misread their constituency on this one?
H.L.Mencken was right about most things, and his stricture about public taste is probably applicable here. But when it comes to one-off glamour games, the appalling embarrassments and misjudgements of 1999 (admittedly under the old administration) have made this particular fan a tad cautious.
firstly i agree, raising the ticket prices is a mistake. While i am happy about the fact that this team is coming over with Beckham, in my honest opinion Urawa vs Sydney FC still tops this game in terms of importance and prestige. (well at least for me)
But i realise the huge draw with Beckham coming down here to play.
Also while im happy its being televised i hope that other friendlies involving A-league teams would be televised too. e.g Melbourne Victory vs China.. as much as i hate the tards it would still be nice to actually see the match...
My first reaction is a rolling of the eyes at the media's childish obsession with Beckham, but if Becks has a relatively quiet game and a few Sydney players impress the hopefully large TV audience, this could be a terrific marketing ploy for SFC and the League. Could even open some doors re: sponsorship and corporate support if Sydney's team can open a few eyes so to speak.
My main fear is that Aussie fans are now becoming quite discerning WRT exhibitions/friendlies now that we have a steady stream of competitive fixtures. I still remember the NT playing against that so-called World Stars XI and the acres of space our players were given. Has the football public been burnt once too often in the past?
But well done FFA for trying something different.
Couldn't have put it better. Like I said in the post, I don't think the Sydney public are fools.
Anything to get football to the general public, even if it is an exhibition match based on one player, is good publicity.
I must admit that the timing is not good right into the A League season.
I would also hope that the FFA goes less for the glitz and glamour and tries to get teams which have a bit of resonance with people here.
Do not need to be top teams like AC Milan or Manchester United either, the true follower would come.
Galaxy have spent a lot of money on Beckham, and they need to start getting some of it back. I fancy they will play anyone who pays the fee at this stage.
It's hard for football fans to understand just how well-known Beckham is, because we see him as a footballer, not a gossip magazine icon. The publicity his arrival will bring you can't buy with the money from the match fee, so even at a loss, I think it's not a bad idea.
I just wonder how much Channel 10 (which I believe it is) paid for them if they knew they might have to black out their biggest market.
...It's hard for football fans to understand just how well-known Beckham is, because we see him as a footballer, not a gossip magazine icon. The publicity his arrival will bring you can't buy with the money from the match fee....
Yeah, fair enough. But the corollary of that is, will the publicity surrounding his arrival really make football in Oz (i.e. the A-League) a more viable product, even in the short term? I'm not so sure.