Soccer fans, the hardcore ones at least, are quite happy with nil – nil and 1 – nil outcomes, but the A-League is attempting to attract more fans by taking a page, a chapter, perhaps, from the book of cricket’s Big Bash League.
The A-League will trial, during the first month of the season, such entertainment enhancing tactics as smoke from flares in the stands, which, we are happy to report, is not from ciggies, but if considered safe for human lungs. They also plan to provide fan zones, such as those seen in the recently conducted FIFA World Cup finals, flashing lights and loud music.
With A-League witnessing a decline in attendance and television audiences on the decline, the measures represent a desire by the league to get young families to attend matches.
A-League should see a spike following the World Cup and much planning went into the new entertainment enhancements.
“We’re fully aware of what the Big Bash entertainment product is and how it attracts young families. We need to make sure we’re not closed off to that,” A-League head Greg O’Rourke told AAP.“But equally we need to make sure the things in our game that we hold unique will be maintained. We’ll be treading carefully towards this to get the best of both worlds.”
O’Rourke stressed that singing and supporting from the stands are the things the A-League does best.
A factor that sometimes cops the blame for the A-League’s decline is the stringent security measures that put a damper on fan participation.
Central Coast Mariners and Wellington matches will be the testing labs for the smoke releases.
Careful Mariners, lest you obscure the presence of Usain Bolt from the set that turns out to see if an aging sprinter can make the transition to football.
Music and video played during goal kicks, corners and substitutions are more controversial, to the football purists, certainly, but A-League polls suggested that fans wanted more pre-game, more in game and more half time entertainment.