Friday, May 11, 2007

Asian Cup, More on Foxtel v Free, Own your own club

Asian Cup

Post the world cup FIFA made some clear pronouncements on simulations and diving. However, as we saw in the Australia v Paraguay game at Lang Park - 50,000 fans jeered 11 South Americans pretending to be hurt every time Australia got momentum - Asian refs have trouble telling the difference between rough football and a weaker side deliberately time wasting. Clearly, from Shanghai Shenhua's efforts we can see the Chinese are expert at this type of game. Perhaps that is why many of the Chinese domestic games that make headlines appear so spiteful. And clearly refs from Singapore don't know what to do about it.

In the other game for Australians, Adelaide played sensationally. The grace of some Shandong Luneng movements, and the ease of their goals, highlighted that it was Adelaide that opened up the lead twice. And Indonesian team Persik Kediri are the find of the cup, particularly playing in Indonesia.

ABC Radio National's Sportsfactor had two great stories on Friday morning and here. Foxtel are funding what we have in football in Australia. Without subscribers, the players head overseas and, ultimately the crowds head back to 500 per game.

I mean probably the key example in the past 12 months was the A-league Soccer Grand Final between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United, in which FoxSports, who'd paid about $120-million for exclusive rights for seven years, were caught short by a US-based streaming website,, who basically broadcast the game for free, and news of this sort of pirate broadcast was circulating in chat-rooms, in soccer chat-rooms, about five days prior to the actual Grand Final. And what FoxSports and Football Federation Australia discovered of course was that cease and desist letters don't really work that well in this situation. Brett Hutchins from Monash University's Media Studies Department on the ABC Sports factor 8:30 Friday 11 May.

Meanwhile, in the UK fans are reacting to Russian and US billionaires taking over their clubs by offering fans the opportunity to buy a share in their own club - and participate in all key decisions via online voting.

I think there were various spurs actually. I think one of them was this sense that we get in England every time there's a World Cup that fans actually seem to know more about football than the people who have paid millions of pounds to manage clubs and to run the game. It triggered this idea of seeing if we could find some way to put that to the test, which obviously would be to buy a football club and have it run by fans giving their opinions over the internet, which is what does. Tim Glynne-Jones


Hamish said...

As long as Fox monopolises the football - especially the Soceroos games - football can not become a mass movement in Australia.

We have a situation where the broadcaster, with a by-definition limited audience - is the major sponsor. I'm a bit tired of the argument that their money is so crucial because year after year they are limiting the possibility of more sponsors.

The basic quanta in the capacity for attracting sponsorship revenue is audience. That's not the only opportunity cost. To the extent that football can attract a mass audience, ticket sales and merchandise can also grow.

To rely so heavilly on the broadcaster and their exclusive audience is a bad business model in the medium and long term. Let's hope that at least the Socceroos games can go back to free-to-air as soon as possible. A deal whereby at least a city's home team's away games are subcontracted to free-to-air should also be being rigorously pursued in my opinion.

Your article merely shows how vulnerable the A-League's big saviour really is. As I've said before, Fox's survival in the marketplace is not even guaranteed. Football has all its eggs in a very shaky basket.

Meanwhile Fox is actually strangling itself by monopolising both the national and international Australian games. Fox could actually help build its audience (for Fox Sport, European Leagues and other internationals, as well as A-League games) by tactically farming out, at reasonable rates, games targetted at specific audiences, like Socceroos games to all Australians and Roar games to Brisbanites. If they were serious about building their sports audience in the long term, they would be thinking along these lines. Right now they have a market share with fully matured demand-growth.

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