Townsville Football Cup lures more A-League clubs

Northern Fury chairman Rabieh Krayem admits the crowds which attended last week’s Townsville Football Cup were below expectations but is optimistic the tournament will return next year.

Sydney FC took out the four-team pre-season tournament, which saw an aggregate attendance of approximately 8000 for the three matchdays.

Upon the announcement of the tournament in May, Krayem labelled it a ‘stepping stone’ to show the FFA that the region deserved to have a club in the A-League.

Disappointingly, less than 1500 fans attended the opening matchday which was played on a Sunday.

After the low opening matchday attendance, the Fury launched a #NoExcuses campaign in a Subscribers eNewsletter calling on fans to attend the final two matchdays.

Approximately 4000 supporters watched the final matchday as Sydney defeated Brisbane Roar 2-0 to clinch the cup.

The tournament, which also included Newcastle Jets, was Townsville’s first taste of A-League action since the demise of the North Queensland Fury in 2011.

“It’s below what we wanted,” Krayem told FourFourTwo about the crowds.

“At the same time we’ve learnt when we should be playing the games.

“It needs to be a Saturday/Wednesday/Saturday schedule and next year we will change the days we play to maximise the crowds.

“But our first day was disappointing, we thought we’d have a bigger crowd.”

Krayem said he had already received positive feedback from all three clubs about returning next year, as well as interest from other A-League outfits.

Sydney coach Graham Arnold raved about the facilities and conditions in Townsville, while all three clubs were pleased with the quality of football and competitiveness of the local club.

“The good thing about it is we’ve got choice,” Krayem said.

“We’ve been approached by other clubs who want to be part of it next year. We are very pleased with it.

“The concept of having it as a pre-season training camp with quality games is what the clubs are looking for.

“Most importantly for us in the regions, it gives us access to A-League players and teams, rather than a fly-in fly-out visit.

“They spent a lot of time with school kids and charities, so it’s a great endorsement for football.”

As a result the Fury chairman was bullish about finding sponsors to help facilitate the tournament in 2015, with a view to introducing a womens’ game in the future.

Wingate Properties were the naming rights sponsor for the 2014 tournament.

PHOTO: Sydney FC