Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Show Me the Money!

The loss of the A-League best players overseas will continue to happen unless Football starts eating at the big kids table.

Let’s look at the TV revenue numbers:
* AFL $780m for 5 years, or $156m per year
* League $500m for 6 years, or $85m per year
* Football $120m for 7 years, or just over $17m per year

Foxtel has gained the most from the previous Liberal Government’s xenophobic attitude to football, who were on the record as saying that football was not part of Australian mainstream culture therefore was not on the anti-siphoning list - sports that must be on free to air Television due to their importance to the national interest.

The deal at the time was struck before Australia’s mighty World Cup appearances, which elevated the Socceroos to arguably the nations most loved and admired team.

The people involved with the deal at the time were John O’Neill and Matt Carroll, who are now both working for the rugby union.

Some have suggested that John O’Neill’s best work for rugby came while he was working for the Football Federation of Australia, having negotiated a deal that took the FFA’s biggest asset away from Free to Air and onto Pay TV, which has only a 25% take up of the Australian population at the moment.

On the eighth of April 2008, there was an announcement that the World Cup qualifying matches for the Australian national team, the Socceroos, will be shown on free-to-air television after the Australian government agreed to add them to the anti-siphoning list.

The move will not come into effect until 2014, however, after Communication’s Minister Stephen Conroy accepted Football Federation Australia’s pleas that to do so now would cost them millions of dollars in penalties from their existing deal with Fox Sports.

Roy Morgan recently released figures of all the major codes in this country.

The following is a comparison of attendances, per ‘football’ code [season; code; matches, excl finals; total attendances; average attendances]

2007, AFL, 176 6,482,281, 36,831
2007, Super, 23 489,716, 21,292
2007, NRL, 170 2,689,449, 15,820
2007,-08 A-League, 84 1,227,486, 14,613

The below table shows the total supporters for the major ‘football’ codes across the different regions of Australia:

AFL 8,044 million
NRL 4,372 million
A-League 2,590 million

If you look at the figures of the AFL comparably with the amount of people who support the NRL, the figures are quite good for the NRL. Especially when you compare them with what football is receiving.
Leading media buyer and analyst Harold Mitchell reckons that “soccer should … be a $100 million a year sport by 2013. It could be equal to the AFL by then, if it is properly presented”.

So the Australian Football community has to wait till 2014 before it can watch the Socceroos on free-to-air, the biggest asset the FFA has is hidden away on pay tv. For only those lucky to afford it, have the privalege of watching Australia's only true national team, one that represents all Australians.

The poor TV deal that was signed for seven years is holding back the A-league recruitement, Aussie clubs cannot compete with Europe and Asia and nothing will stop this exodus until someone at the FFA says:

"Show me the money!!!!!"

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