The A-League’s proposed move to winter to align with community football hasn’t been helped by the TV ratings since COVID19.
A total of 173,000 people tuned in across Foxtel, Kayo Sports and ABC (on two hour delay) to watch Sydney FC beat first-time grand finalists Melbourne City 1-0. Fox Sports had 84,000 tune in via TV while Kayo Sports/Foxtel Go added another 66,000.
For a comparison, the AFL game between Gold Coast Suns and North Melbourne, two teams with small fanbases who won’t make finals, had 122,000 watching on Fox Footy. Carlton v Collingwood had 254,000 on Fox Footy alone. Melbourne v Manly in the NRL had 184,000 on Fox and Canberra v Canterbury attracted 177,000 on Fox League.
The numbers cast doubt on a move to winter being a long term solution for the A-League.
The 2020/21 season is likely to start early next year, according to FFA CEO James Johnson, mainly due to the current season finishing so late. It is also anticipated the following season may also be in winter to work around the 2022 World Cup in Qatar scheduled for November/December.
“The clash with the AFL and NRL isn’t the only obstacle for a winter season, with the people most likely to attend A-League games likely to be caught up with their community soccer commitments,” says Central Coast Mariners fan and local Southern Districts community coach Andrez Meriden.
“After playing and coaching plus volunteering at their club, the last thing someone wants to do is go and sit in the cold watching more soccer."
Foxtel’s $32 million deal runs through to July 2021. With the A-League likely to need a new broadcast partner beyond that date, it is likely whoever comes on board would play a huge role in deciding when the season is played.