While you were sleeping: A-League explodes as rival codes snooze
From its fledgling roots in 2005 – when FFA chairman Frank Lowy today recalled begging fans to turn out for matches – and a potential television audience of just 800,000, the A-League is set to smash past all its previous landmarks.
Today the league reaches 2.4 million Fox Sports households, crowds are expected to break the 2,000,000 mark, club memberships are set to tip 100,000 this week, and FFA bosses have targeted 660,000 TV viewers a week, 2 million web users and 1 million social media followers
“We are not at the end of the road,” said Lowy at Tuesday's launch at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium. “We are not even at the halfway point on the road.
“We have just started to get into a stride. I am more than confident, I expect we will be doubling, if not tripling, our viewers, our spectators, our football in 10 years’ time.
“That’s what it’s all about. We have got to grow. There is no more beautiful football game than our game. I don’t want to run down our competitors…but when I get a chance, I do!
“They predicted lots of things for us which fortunately did not happen. But I predict that in the next 10 years I am sure we will double or triple our popularity.
“Because our game is the football game, our game is the international game. No other game can do to Australia what we do. Today it is an amazing game.”
He added: “This brings us into the heart of Asia. Our game is not just on the pitch, it is off the pitch and for Australia.”
FFA CEO David Gallop echoed Lowy’s enthusiasm for the game and the year ahead.
“Ten years is a significant achievement,” he said. “We are enjoying a golden period for Australian football. There is much going on right now…
“This year we have some ambitious benchmarks… But rest assured, the other competitions have gone to sleep. Now it’s our time as we go into Friday night.”
He hailed to switch of Friday night A-League football making the move to SBS1 this season after it was kept in the margins of SBS2 last season.
“That’s a very important development for us,” Gallop said.
“Underpinning our coverage though is Fox Sports. Every game live is such an important part of the way people get their football.
He added: “The FFA Cup has been an enormous success for Australian football and captured the imagination of not just football fans but Australian sports fans.
“We’re going to hit the ground running in the A-League as a result because our A-League clubs have had the opportunity to play in some meaningful games in the FFA Cup over the last couple of months.
“It is an important part of the reason why you are going to see some fantastic football starting on Friday night.
“When the football community comes together, we are able to achieve remarkable things - and the FFA Cup is just one example of that unity of purpose that we are seeing in Australian football at the moment.”