Crowd numbers for the A-League have remained abysmal as the competition failed to capitalise on the Socceroos’ incredible run at the World Cup in Qatar late last year.
Football Australia no doubt would have hoped the strong support for Graham Arnold’s men in the Middle East would spill over on local shores after the tournament finished on December 19.
Data from website austadiums.com revealed just how bleak the numbers have been, with the fixture between Western United and Newcastle Jets on January 15 drawing just 2356 supporters.
Additionally, the game on January 8 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium showcasing Macarthur FC versus the Jets saw only 3123 fans make their way through the gates.
The dismal crowd numbers are in stark contrast to the scenes during the World Cup, where Federation Square in Melbourne and Darling Harbour in Sydney were packed with fans as Australia reached the round of 16 for just the second time.
Perhaps fearing what may unfold, Socceroos star Craig Goodwin virtually pleaded for healthy numbers at A-League matches after Qatar.
The huge crowds during the World Cup proved the Australian public still care about football (pictured, Federation Square in Melbourne)
But despite the heroics of the Socceroos at the World Cup, crowd numbers in the A-League each week remain dreadful (pictured, a woeful crowd during a recent match in Wollongong)
‘We hope that what we’ve achieved here (Qatar) can help grow the game back home because the A-League is better than it’s perceived,’ the Adelaide skipper said in December.
‘The message to [the public] is this – ‘get out and see the Socceroos players that are playing in the A-League.’
‘Support your local teams and embrace Australian football; help it grow.
‘It’s about building on what we’ve done here, not just as a playing group, but as a nation as well.’
Sadly for Goodwin – and Football Australia – his call to arms fell on deaf ears.
Socceroos star Craig Goodwin pleaded for healthy numbers at A-League matches post Qatar – his call to arms has been ignored
A bleeding Tom Glover of Melbourne City is escorted from the pitch by team mates after fans stormed the pitch at AAMI Park
The poor numbers at A-League matches have been exacerbated by the shocking scenes at the Melbourne derby on December 17, which was an unwanted black eye for the code.
The pitch invasion at AAMI Park saw Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover struck with a bucket and referee Alex King was also injured in the chaos which followed.
Before the derby in round eight, Melbourne Victory had attracted the highest average attendances of the season, according to the ABC.
But following the heavy sanctions issued by FA, those numbers have plunged.
Melbourne Victory also aren’t the only A-League outfit to experience a dip in support on home soil.
Despite sitting in third spot, Western Sydney Wanderers have seen their average attendance numbers fall by more than 60 per cent at Commbank Stadium.
Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets – both struggling this season – have endured their own decreases of at least 30 per cent.
Then we have the grand final announcement from last month, which created tension of tidal-wave proportions.
The decision to award Sydney hosting rights until 2025 was nothing short of a disaster, despite the PR spin from Australian Professional Leagues CEO Danny Townsend.
While the deal struck with Destination NSW last month was worth a reported $10 million, A-League teams earning the right to host deciders was one of the best features of the competition dating back to 2005.
APL boss Danny Townsend is not a popular figure with many football fans after his Sydney grand final announcement last month
Fans from Adelaide United and Brisbane (both teams pictured) will have to fork out for flights and accommodation to see the grand final in Sydney for at least the next three years if their teams are in the decider
Scores of disgruntled fans have voted with their feet, refusing to attend games out of principle.
And other fans who did attend matches across the nation then left stadiums out of protest.
Labelled by Townsend a ‘unique opportunity to build a tradition for football fans’, the corporate deal will be forever condemned.
Once the development was made public on December 12, Perth Glory boss Tony Sage labelled the move ‘a f****** joke’ on social media, while Sydney FC’s support group, The Cove, posted: ‘Whilst of course this decision benefits us, it is completely unfair and unjust to the rest of the league.’
For the A-League to succeed, the competition needs genuine marquee signings who will put bums on seats.
Not players from Europe or South America in their mid to late 30s chasing a final payday.
Playing over summer is ridiculous given the heat in Australia, and the fact there is no chance of clubs getting relegated due to the absence of a national second division means mediocrity is alive and well.
Many players simply aren’t good enough, and a look across the 12 A-League clubs will tell you many fringe footballers are ‘recycled’ year after year.
The Socceroos showed the public still care about the world game – but instead of sitting on their hands in the eyes of many, Football Australia need to make wholesale changes – now.
If they don’t, the A-League will be irrelevant.