Here are some thoughts I added to Mike's blog:
'The A-League was an outcome of the lead up and performance by the socceroos at the 2006 world cup. Crowds did growth for 3 seasons, then the rubber band started to snap back. Like the EPL, few clubs have broken-even including all revenues. Until stadiums stop being the major expense and until clubs break even, the contraction will continue. Unless, there is either cost reform - ie play somewhere cheaper or pay less for players, or there is another major event to catch the public's attention for 3 years...' growth will be limited.
Here are the average crowd number for the 5 and a bit years of the A-League (I have used Wikipedia for the raw data):
Average crowds peaked in season 3, 2007-8. I recall in season 3 a growing feeling that 3 games against each team was just too much. Plus in Brisbane, Frank Farina was the new hope for a title and Asia - which he very nearly made.
Last year Adelaide moved ahead of the A-League season average for the first time - despite its last position. There is a real lesson there about whether it is winning or entertaining or just having on the park the players that fans want to see (can you see that Roar?).
Brisbane's fan base collapsed after it lost its first game to the new Gold Coast team (whose management boycotted the game and told their fans to stay away - well done lads got everyone's sympathy there). Some Brisbane fans went to Gold Coast where they lost interest. Then Frank was fired and the fan base fell away further and has not recovered.
It is interesting that Wellington, despite their world cup interest, have not - so far - managed to maintain their average crowd and are well down on their entry in 2007-8.
Melbourne Victory still has the largest average crowd but it is down from 21,000 last year to just under 15,000 this year. And while they have moved many games to the smaller AAMI stadium, it is concerning how empty their stadium is looking. I feel that empty stadiums have a real impact on atmosphere and discourage people.
Perth is the success story so far this season. Robbie Fowler and winning at home has made a real difference. In Perth bigger crowds are creating more atmosphere in their small stadium. Plus there is a sense of a return to the NSL 'Glory' days.