Football Vision 2025

With less than 2-weeks before season 13 of the Hyundai A-League kicks off, there is a calm before the storm.  There have been many distractions in the long off-season within our football community, however, I wanted to reflect on the sport and the current landscape.

In my view, all A-League teams have raised the bar in terms of their recruitment for the season ahead.  This will only further add to the quality of the A-League in the upcoming season.

I am anticipating a hotly contested Hyundai A-League this season and look forward to Round 1.

As a lead up to season 13, I revisited some key insights into the A-League as they were at the end of season 2016/17:

Key Insights A-League

Much has been said about the progress and development of the A-League, however, in 2016/17, the following was achieved:

  • Broadcast numbers improved by 13% on 2016/17 to an average audience of 94,000 per match with Fox Sports up by 11% to an average of 68,000 per match
  • Broadcast share also improved with Fox up 6% and SBS2 17%
  • All clubs improved Broadcast audience results
  • Attendance increased by 3% on 2015/16 to an average attendance per match of 12,641
  • In terms of attendances, whilst the A-League is currently the 5th most attended professional sport in Australia, we are not far away from surpassing NRL and Super Rugby which would result in the A-League being the 3rd largest attended sport. This is achievable following the seasons those competitions have just experienced.
  • Globally, the A-League is the 14th most attended football league in the world, which really provides some perspective
  • Memberships are up 9% and are at the highest number on record at 117,415 with this tend expected to continue for 2017/18.
  • Since 2009/10, club membership numbers have doubled

Perth Glory Football Club

At Perth Glory, we are on-target to reach another Club membership record of 10,000 members on the back of achieving average attendances of 10,533 during the 2016/17 

People constantly compare the Perth Glory A-League era with the National Soccer League era which prompted me to recently conduct some research on facts, thanks to statistician, Andrew Howe

During the NSL era between 1996/97 – 2003/04, the club averaged crowds of 12,403 compared to the current 10,533.  However, in the last two (2) years of the NSL, both Championship years, the club averaged 9,873.

Notwithstanding these numbers, they were the highest attendances of the old National Soccer League at the time.  A couple of points to raise on this:

  1. There was no live television against the gate in the NSL era and nor was English Premier League as accessible on television as it is today.
  2. Perth Oval was really the only avenue a football fan had to consume football in Perth and WA other than local football
  3. Today’s technological capabilities are more accurate in providing attendance figures

The club membership today is at the highest it has ever been in the 21 years existence of the club.

Whilst not denying the spectacular emergence of Perth Glory in 1996, I find this data every interesting and provides perspective in terms of where the club is today and where it is heading.

What has eluded the club in its A-League era has been silverware which it craves.  We are working hard behind the scenes to achieve in both the A-League and W-League under the new strategic plan, The Perth Glory Way.

The current landscape

Whilst I won’t make any comment around the current political landscape of our great game in my position as CEO of Perth Glory Football Club, I am looking forward to the day we can align all stakeholders and develop a collective vision for how we want the game to look like in the medium to longer term.

When I read and listen to all the commentary surrounding the football issues, I see a lot of ambition.  Ambition is great and some of the best outcomes in life are derived by ambition and strong vision.

No one can deny the progress of the sport in terms of its participation numbers and the development of the A-League.  The emergence of the FFA Cup has uncovered some gems as well as a strong and vibrant community.

This has seen the rise of clubs in the grassroots and lower leagues (largely forgotten by ‘new football”) which has given them a taste and reinvigorated their ambition in what they perceive is their future roles in Australian football.

To me crisis brings opportunity to unite the community behind one vision.

Ambition vs Capability

In a discussion recently with someone I consider a mentor, we spoke to about the concept of matching ambition with capability.

I have pondered this concept in relation to football and the current challenges we confront.  The key factors to take into consideration when you attempt to match ambition with capability are as follows:

  • Matching ambition with capability is critical
  • Trying to build capability quickly can be costly
  • Vision without action is just that, a dream
  • Action without vision, is a nightmare

All these points ring true, however, the big point for me is:

  • Congruence.  Without congruence, we can not achieve our ambition irrespective of capability.

The key word which best describes our current landscape is incongruence.

Finding harmony in the sport and uniting behind one vision is at its most crucial stage.  Capability can be built over time by implementing a prioritised phased process.  Our biggest obstacle is congruence.

I often imagine what can be achieved if we were in a congruent, one sport, one vision environment. Having said that, there is a lot of impatience and the importance of matching the ambition with capability is also crucial.

Where we have come from

With the demise of the NSL in 2004, football took a direction to corporatise the sport, something that had to happen.

Much was achieved in re-landscaping and energising the national competition through the new and glossy Hyundai A-League.  Much needed corporate revenue made it possible through a television rights deal with Fox Sports and a naming rights deal with Hyundai.

In doing so, we left some key ingredients behind and failed to take a large proportion of the football community at the time along on the new journey creating the divide of “old soccer” and “new football”, something that has never sat right with me.

Being a Melburnian most of my life and following the game since 1977, I personally saw the huge void that was created at the time with thousands of football fans not taking to the A-League as they felt a sense of non-belonging.  This still exists today after 13 years.

Football Community

In my view, it is time to truly connect the entire football community.

Not all was bad under the National Soccer League as some may tell you.

The National Soccer League clubs were largely responsible for the “golden generation” of developing high achieving Socceroos and Young Socceroos that not only played in the NSL, but went on to play for some big clubs throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.

Where the NSL failed was corporatising the sport, something the A-League has succeeded with.

Now is the time to connect the football community and collectively develop the vision that will continue to ensure the great game of football prospers in this country.  What that looks like?  It depends on how we collaborate to articulate the vision and build on the ambition.

By doing so, we will unlock some great capability, empower people and organisations and harmoniously execute a carefully devised plan to continue the path for football as the most participated sport and making it the second highest attended professional league in Australia.

Looking Ahead

By embracing the past and uniting it with the present, we can create a powerful landscape for all stakeholders to prosper in the future.  Now is the time to develop Football Vision 2025, the strategic plan that unites the entire football community as one sport.

There is so much ambition to harness and bring everyone along an exciting journey ahead.

For now, I look forward to the FFA Cup Semi-Finals and Grand Final and the commencement of an exciting Hyundai A-League season 2017/18 as I continue to ponder what we can achieve working together as a congruent family.

In closing, I would like to reiterate, these are my personal observations which I share openly and which I enjoy discussing with our growing and wonderful football community.

Some don’t appreciate my opinions or views, however, I feel its important that we continue to strive for better and having the dialogue can only help the development of football.

Interested in your thoughts.

Yours in football

Peter Filopoulos