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FFA grossly overestimate Cup’s perception

In 2014, Adelaide United hosted Perth Glory in the inaugural FFA Cup final, in front of 16,142 fans on a Tuesday night in December. Last night, just 15,098 fans came through the turnstiles for the FFA Cup Final between the A-League’s best-supported club, Melbourne Victory, and last year’s runners up Perth Glory.

With the Victory boasting in excess of 26,000 members, and an average gate this season of over 32,000 fans, how come the final in the FFA’s showpiece knockout tournament could only draw half of that figure?

Well, the answer is overestimation.

Although the FFA would like to think of the Cup as on par with the stature of the A-League Finals series — as evidenced by them expecting a sell-out crowd last night — the simple fact is that in the minds of the fans it is nowhere near at that level yet.

You can promote the so-called “magic of the cup” all you want, but when you have two A-League clubs facing off in mid-November, it doesn’t feel any different to a regular season A-League game.

But where the Cup final is different to a regular league game is when it comes to ticketing.

This season, fans who wanted to attend the Cup final would be forced to pay double what fans in Adelaide paid for the equivalent seat at last year’s final, a fact not lost on fans with even a rudimentary grasp of how to use Google:

How can you honestly justify that type of increase, and yet still expect fans to turn up in droves with their pockets out and wallets at the ready?

The issue of price is further compounded by the venue and competing teams in the final only being confirmed a week and a half out from the day.

In 2014, the gap between the semi-finals and final was over a month, allowing plenty of time for fans of both sides to make plans and alter any existing plans they may have had on the night of the final. The fact that the final was held mid-week made that task all the more simple.

For some reason, though, the 2015 final took place less than two weeks after the semi finals, and on a Saturday night instead of mid-week.

Compare that to the A-League fixture, which is released months in advance of a ball being kicked, leaving fans of all ten clubs plenty of time to plan around their team’s schedule.

The issue with last night is that you leave very little time for people to alter any existing plans they may have had for their Saturday night, and with the prices set at the level they were, very little impetus to want to change those plans.

And that is the point the FFA missed last night.

The Cup is not at the level of the A-League Finals (not yet, at least), and while it may be financially beneficial to try to milk the ever-reliable Victory cash cow yet again, you risk alienating fans who simply don’t have $60, $80 or $150 to spend on top of their yearly A-League club membership.

So, hopefully, those in charge look at what happened last night and learn some valuable lessons.

Perhaps an extra week’s lead-in to the game, and charging a reasonable price for tickets, would help to make the FFA Cup Final more attractive to fans.

Or, perhaps, existing club members could be given some kind of discount when purchasing a ticket to the final.

Because, at the end of the day, football fans aren’t to be taken for idiots, and certainly shouldn’t be taken for granted.

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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  • Michael Jepson

    Well said Justin. But i notice you avoid discussing the game automatically being played in Melbourne. Surely this crowd number throws the FFAs arguement well and truly out the window. Looking at the semis attendance Perth with a membership of 5000 got 4500 to their game. Melbourne with a 25000 strong membership got only 6500 so i don’t believe Melbourne automatically deserved the game at all. But I’m sure we won’t see these kind of decisions changed until the FFA drop their sponsorship deal of the victory

  • Ultimate A-League

    (Justin) The hosting of the game is another issue altogether, and one that is certainly up for discussion. I don’t agree that Victory should’ve automatically got hosting rights this year, in the same way that no team should just be given the hosting rights to the Cup final. How the FFA can sort this out though, I don’t know. A neutral venue would kill crowds, so maybe they just draw the venue out of a hat and leave it up to chance?

    In terms of the semi finals, the difference there was that the Victory semi was a Hume City home game, meaning Victory members received no entry rights or discount ticket prices for the game – hence the big crowd to membership differential.