Monday, December 7, 2009

The Reason Australia Needs the World Cup #1431

AFL-1612AFL211212Ball-1251120764 Ah AFL – not a sport I really dislike. For any readers who are not from Australia, AFL is a football code which “uniquely embodies the Australian spirit”. It’s a sport that was created by Australians and for Australians – hence it must be the greatest sport in the World – If I were to argue against that I must logically be un-Australian, right?

There’s no question that AFL is currently the most popular sport in Australia. For those who run the AFL this is something that must continue to be the case. If it wasn’t the biggest sport in Australia, then it wouldn’t be the biggest sport anywhere and then it would be confined to the history books, and Australia would cease to have a game that we could be proud of. It might even be the end of Australia as we know it – how else can we be proud of ourselves as a people if we don’t have a sport to call our own?


The CEO of the Australian Football League, Andrew Demetriou, has come out today claiming that if Australia’s bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cups is successful, the AFL may have to take a season off, potentially causing several AFL clubs to fold. His reasoning is that some of the stadia used by the AFL are also earmarked to be used for football games as part of any Australian World Cup, and may be ‘out of action’ for a couple of months.

Let’s ignore the fact that the AFL neither owns or payed for these facilities - while they have on occasion invested in stadium redevelopments and construction the funding for the facilities the AFL uses has come almost exclusively from state and federal governments. The same governments who know and understand the financial benefits a World Cup will bring to Australia.

The simple fact is, Andrew’s not telling the truth. The AFL have plenty of other stadiums and facilities that could easily enable them to have a season in 2018/2022. In 2006 the AFL played for much of the season without the use of the MCG due to the Commonwealth Games, this was relatively painless and the AFL were more than happy to allow this to happen, of course the AFL doesn’t consider Athletics to be one of it’s competitors.

Even if, as suggested today, the MCG could be out of action for several months as it is temporarily converted into a rectangular venue, some creative scheduling would ensure the AFL would be able to continue. Potentially the AFL season may have to take a break of 1-2 months, but there should be no problem with the AFL season extending into late Spring.

mcg1 MCG as a rectangular venue?

Whatever the solution – you can be sure there is one. There are at least 9 years for the AFL to prepare for the World Cup, ample time to work out alternative arrangements. And Demetriou is suggesting that AFL clubs could die because of this? Laughable.

So why did Demetriou come out and make these comments? There are two possible reasons – the first is that he is trying to make the AFL appear hard done by and over exaggerating the financial impact that a World Cup could have on the AFL and AFL clubs – trying to increase the amount of compensation that the AFL will receive.

He could also just be trying to derail Australia’s bid. On reading the headlines many an Australian sports fan will be shocked. They probably had nothing against a World Cup up until now – but now it seems their favourite AFL side will ‘cease to exist’ if the Cup is played on our shores.

Whatever his motivation – you can tell that the media’s on his side as well. Australia’s newspapers are filled with sports journalists who would be without a job if it wasn’t for the AFL. This is the motivation behind many of the sensationalist articles you might have read today. Melbourne’s Herald Sun even ran a poll on it’s website - “Would you accept scrapping the AFL season to ensure Australia hosts the soccer World Cup?” – time to declare your allegiances Australia – it’s either the game we’ve grown up on and the game that identifies us as the greatest nation on earth, or it’s the World Cup – not both.

I was following the results of this poll this afternoon – noticed a pattern – the “Yes” votes seem to occasionally disappear. Could be a technical glitch I guess, but it seems a little suspicious to me:


There are a lot of people in this country who will do whatever it takes to make sure Australia remembers that AFL is the Australian game, and the only game that a ‘true-blue’ Australian can support. We need this world cup, we need it like North Korea needs democracy.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bundesliga comes to Ten’s ‘One HD’

Channel Ten have revealed that their 24-hour free-to-air sports channel, One HD, will be covering Germany’s top flight football competition, the Bundesliga, this season. Starting with a game between newly promoted Nuremburg and Schalke at 11:30pm this Saturday night - One will show a Bundesliga game live in High Definition every week.

Until now, I have been quite critical of One’s apparent ‘no-football policy’. It was quite poor to see a dedicated sports channel showing everything from AFL to paintball, but leaving out the world’s biggest game. In their defence, this may have had something to do with the rights to most football around the world already being held, but in any case to see them spend some cash on European football is a very good sign (just how much they would have paid is an interesting question – Setanta, who would have agreed to sh are their Bundesliga rights, are desperate for cash at the moment). Let’s hope we see even more football on One HD soon, the way Ten announced their coverage as ‘our first major European football league’ certainly suggests there may be more to come.

A lack of football coverage for those without pay-television has long been an issue in Australia, but consider what football will be shown on free-tv in the next 12 months:

One HD:
- 30+ Bundesliga games

- 25+ UEFA Champions League games
- UEFA Europa league
- FIFA Club World Cup
- FIFA Under 20 World Cup (and other FIFA tournaments)
- A selection of other football, with many games on Sunday afternoons
- Not to forget next year’s World Cup… 64 more matches

- W-league

In fact, there will probably be more football on FTA TV in the next year than there will be any other sport. Pretty impressive considering how much more football is on pay-television.

Of course the obvious problem is that Socceroos matches and the A-league are still exclusively on Fox Sports. Bundesliga matches late on Saturday nights will be great, but I still look forward to the day when we see local football on FTA TV during primetime. Perhaps with One HD showing some interest in football, the money that the FFA gets from TV rights will significantly rise when they are next negotiated. I’m hoping that with a high price, comes some level of FTA coverage.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Gold Coast and Brisbane 2009-10 Shirts

The last remaining kits, not previously leaked, for the upcoming A-league season have recently been revealed by Gold Coast United and the Brisbane Roar. Pictures are below.

88439298_10 [Desktop Resolution]


One interesting point is how the Gold Coast’s kit clashes with that of the Central Coast (see previous blog: As mentioned in that blog, a few kits seem likely to cause problems when certain teams come up against each other this season. When the Mariners travel to Skilled Park, they will have no suitable clash strip to wear for the game. It is likely that this will force the Gold Coast to wear their white strip at home.

It’s all well and good that the Mariners came up with a striped kit as their home strip (incidentally, what are the odds that the FFA were the ones that pushed this, knowing that the Gold Coast wanted an all-yellow strip), and to have a yellow away kit, but these two strips really don’t clash. Perhaps a 3rd kit would have been a good idea for them (and maybe a couple of other sides).

Still, Reebok have definitely improved their kit designs a lot this season. Might have something to do with their contract expiring next year.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

2009-10 A-league Kits Released

Last Week, 8 out of the 10 Hyundai A-league clubs new kit were released. Still no word on Brisbane or the Gold Coast’s kits – but here’s a lot at those that were revealed:

Adelaide:Image3Adelaide’s home kit is fairly similar to previous years, although there does appear to be some sort of pinstripe pattern – hard to tell from the low res images though. Looks good though. The away kit is a little retro, but is a nice change.

Central Coast:

Image2 No surprise here, we have already seen this kit. They really should fix the back of the home kit – the player name looks silly going over the stripes. They should really just make the top half of the back of the kit plain yellow, with a blue name and number. (similar to Perth’s kit – see below)


Image2Melbourne goes with a fairly standard strip, the V looks a little thinner than it used to, which is good. The little v’s running down the side are somewhat odd, but shouldn’t look too bad on the final kit. The away kit is white, rather than silver – looks good though.


Image2 Newcastle will not use their Champions League kit in next year’s A-league. Their kit will, in fact, be very similar to their kit from last year. They’ve gone with a blue away kit, which looks good although I would have liked to have seen a blue/red away kit.

North Queensland:

Image2North Queensland kit was leaked last week. This design looks quite bright, but I think the actual kit will look better than this looks on paper.



Image5 Perth have gone the vertical stripes for next season, while I would have preferred hoops (just because we already have a couple of other teams in vertical stripes), this kit looks great. Again, I expect the actual kit to look better than the kit does on paper, because this design is quite bright. I think this is more accurate to what it will actually look like:


Sydney FC:

Image3 Sydney’s kit is fairly standard, but it certainly looks good. You can’t have everyone wearing an ‘interesting’ kit.


Image3 Wellington’s striped kit looks excellent. Their away kit is very nice as well. They have done the same thing as Central Coast with their player names going over their stripes, which is the only problem I have with this kit.

Gold Coast, Brisbane:

These are the only two clubs yet to have their kits released, the delay for Brisbane might be related to their name-change from Queensland, while Gold Coast evidently are still working on theirs.

Here’s a couple of mock-ups I’ve done, I have a feeling that Brisbane will go with the maroon, while I think the Gold Coast might go with a predominantly yellow kit – although I prefer the teal.




One interesting thing to consider about the new kits is potential clashes. I imagine that most sides will wear their home shirt as much as possible, with their away kit ready as an alternative when required. Consider some examples though – what happens when:

Wellington hosts Central Coast?
Central Coast plays Newcastle?

Interestingly the only solution to these clashes might force the home team to wear their away strip. This is why, in Europe, a lot of sides (especially those with stripes) have to have 3 kits, to ensure that they can always provide an alternative strip to the home team. I wonder what the solution will be for the A-league?


It’s great to see A-league clubs without the standard template kits this season. I also look forward to seeing an away team that isn’t wearing white.

These kits will likely be unveiled officially on Monday, when the A-league draw is released.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

North Queensland Fury Kit Revealed

North Queensland’s inaugural A-league kit has been leaked – here’s my mock-up of it (from the low resolution pics that were leaked):


It looks a little odd, but I like the combination of light/dark green. The back of the kit is mainly light green.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Australian Football Broadcasting Update

It’s been about 8 months since I finished my (mammoth) series of blogs regarding TV Coverage of football in Australia. I looked at football on Free-to-Air Television, then wrote about football on Subscription Television, and finally looked at the future of football on Australian TV. This will just be an update on the situation, there have been a few interesting developments since my last blog.

Pay TV:

Let me talk about Pay-TV first. While there haven’t been a lot of improvements made to the amount of football coverage we get lately, there have been a few things worth noting.

Fox Sports:

Fox Sports have pushed ahead with their High Definition football coverage this season, many A-league games have been shown in HD, as well as all Socceroos games and heaps of games from England. I haven’t got access to Fox Sports HD myself, but from all reports the quality has been very good.

Recently Fox have shown a bit more Asian football, including every one of the final round of Asian World Cup qualifiers. Unfortunately though, many of these games have been shown on delay, and viewers choice hasn’t been utilized.

One of the problems for Fox, when it comes to Asian football, has been finding commentators and producing the coverage. Fox prefers to provide it’s own commentators for games, which is fine, but the problem with this is that they have been reluctant to broadcast games unless they feel that it is worth doing commentary and doing good coverage.

The Asian Champions league, which is going on currently, is a good example. Fox would gladly broadcast all games from the Champions league, if it was as simple as just putting them on TV. But it would be very hard for them to provide commentary and to produce every one of these games. As I’ve said previously, the solution to this is obvious – they need to share the load with other Asian Broadcasters. Perhaps the AFC should spearhead this, but if the recourses of Fox, Star Sports, and other English Language Asian networks were combined, you could have good quality coverage of all games – and viewers all over Asia (and the World) could benefit.

Still on the topic of Asian football, I received a bit of an exclusive yesterday when I had confirmation from Fox Sports that the J-league will be shown on Fox this year. At this stage it will likely just be a highlights show, but at least it’s something. Expect to see this starting up in the next couple of weeks.

It would be awesome to see live coverage of the J-league one day, especially as games are shown at a perfect time for Australian viewers, and it would be a perfect competition to fill the void left by the lack of A-league during Winter. Again, though, it’s hard for Fox to commit to broadcasting the J-league live, as they would likely have to produce and do commentary for the games themselves (unless they could use the coverage that Eurosport do in England).

(Incidentally, I’ve seen a few J-league games online this season – it really is a high quality league, and great to watch – I recommend checking it out if you have a good internet connection)


Setanta Sports still suffers from many of the problems that I talked about last year. They have heaps of rights, and plenty of good coverage, but no where near enough airtime to show live matches. One recent edition to Setanta’s coverage is the Russian Premier League. I quite like that they are showing this, as it’s one league that is well suited to Australian viewers, with games on a bit earlier than other European leagues. They desperately need more channels, or maybe some viewers choice system though.


I talked last year about the possibility of new channels coming to Foxtel, which could improve football coverage. While this has not happened yet, I have heard strong rumours that 3 new sports channels will be available on Foxtel before the end of the year, most likely from October 1st. I’m confident that Eurosport will be one of these channels, while Sky Sports News might be another. It also leaves the door open for that Fox Sports football channel, which is still a possibility.

(These channels will be just a few of the 20 channels that will be launched before the end of the year, also expect to see Foxtel convert all it’s subscribers to the Foxtel IQ. There should be a few other improvements as well)


Unfortunately there isn’t a lot to report regarding football on Australian FTA TV at the moment. Most football coverage is limited to SBS, who continue their dedication to the World Game.


They did try something different recently, introducing an extra show on Tuesday nights. The concept of “Extra Time” was very solid – a recap of the weekend’s football, with all the goals from the EPL and the A-league. Unfortunately making the show only half and hour long, and putting it at 6pm meant it was doomed to failure. SBS has said that it will be back at some point, hopefully they put it on Monday nights – maybe at 9:30 – and let it go a bit longer, so that all the big European leagues can be looked at in detail.

One thing that was fairly significant late last year for SBS was the FIFA Club World Cup. Firstly, it was the first time SBS had ever shown games involving an A-league team. Their coverage was solid, and the ratings were good. It was also significant because, for the first time, SBS used their extra digital channel to show football. They had Adelaide’s 5th/6th placed playoff as well as the Gamba v Manchester Semi-final exclusively on their digital channel. Hopefully they use this channel again for their coverage of the Confederations Cup and FIFA Under 20 World Cup later this year.

The other regular football that we see on SBS is the UEFA Champions league. We still do not know, however, if SBS will have the rights to this competition beyond this year, but hopefully they will, as there really isn’t enough football on FTA TV at the moment.


It was good to see a FTA channel other than SBS getting in on the football action this Summer. ABC did a good job covering the W-league, and followed it up with coverage of two Matildas games early this year. Considering the timeslot and the quality of the football, the ratings were very good. Hopefully the ABC might start broadcasting other womens/youth football in the future – this was something I mentioned as part of my ‘ideal scenario’ in a previous blog.


You can expect to see some of the other commercial broadcasters taking football more seriously when the A-league/Socceroos TV rights expire in a few years, but for now these channels seem very reluctant to broadcast any football whatsoever.

One thing that might change this is Channel 10’s introduction of a 24hr sports channel, One HD. Now the merits of this channel are a matter for another blog, but surely with a dedicated sports channel on FTA some football will be shown? You’d think that, wouldn’t you?

Ten has bought rights to various sports events from around the world, although mainly from North America. They have been promoting their channel as '”full of sports from all corners of the globe”. It seems a bit silly that they would say this, and then not broadcast any amount of the World’s most popular game. In fairness, they aren’t showing any rugby either, maybe it is not football that they are reluctant to broadcast, but anything that might be a serious threat to AFL.

For the immediate future, it looks like football fans will still have to rely on pay-TV if they want to watch any serious amount of football. I do hope that changes (at least to some degree) one day.


Monday, February 16, 2009

2009-10 A-league Kits

A couple of weeks ago we heard some good news about the kits for next season’s A-league. Firstly, each club will have new kits next season – both home and away. Not only that, but Reebok (who still have exclusive designing rights to the A-league strips for the next two years) will finally allow clubs more freedom when designing their strips.

The good news just keeps coming, as it has also been confirmed that the FFA’s policy of white away kits has been done away with. Finally, although I’m not sure of this one, clubs are likely to be allowed to wear their home strips for all games, except when avoiding a clash with the home team.

I called for many of these changes a year ago, in my blog: 'A-league kits could be improved'. After hearing this latest news, I thought I’d do some new mock-ups and do some speculation on what we might see next season:

Central Coast:

The first kits for the new season have already been revealed, with the Central Coast Mariners releasing their kits for the 2009 AFC Champions League, which they will also use in next season’s A-league. When the first images of this kit were released, Mariners fans were a little disappointed at the lack of yellow, however I think (with the back of the kit being yellow), the kits will look a lot more yellow at matches than they did when the initial press images were released. Here are there home and away kits:


Adelaide United:

Some details of Adelaide’s new kits have already surfaced. Apparently the home kit will have some sort of ‘knitted effect’. This sounds a little weird to me, but I think I’ve made a pretty good guess at what this will look like. Also, United will have a black away kit next year, which I’ve done as well:


For the rest of the clubs I’ve only done home kits, hopefully the FFA will no longer require teams to wear alternate kits for every away match next season, so we will mainly only see home kits anyway. (perhaps there will be a part 2 to this blog)

Gold Coast United:

The Gold Coast’s home uniform will be yellow and blue, while their away strip will be white. I’d like to see them use the ‘aqua’ blue as their main colour for their home strip – something like this would look good IMO:


Melbourne Victory:

You certainly won’t be seeing the ‘V’ disappearing from the Melbourne kit any time soon, I think this one looks a little better than their current uniform though:


Newcastle United Jets:

Newcastle’s AFC Champions League strip will be revealed fairly soon, this is what it will look like (apparently). Whether or not this strip will also be used in next seasons A-league is still unconfirmed.


North Queensland Fury:

North Queensland Fury (a name that may yet be changed before they begin their inaugural season – fingers crossed), will use green and white as their colours. I’m very happy to finally see a little green in the A-league, something like this would look good:


Perth Glory:

I used the idea of having white horizontal stripes on the Perth kit in my blog last year. The info I’ve seen says that this is quite likely to become reality next season. For my mock-up, I've tried to be a little more subtle with the horizontal stripes, making them only slightly lighter than the dark purple.


Queensland Roar:

Some fans have been calling for a maroon strip next season for Queensland. I still like the idea of Queensland in orange, so I decided to go half-and-half. I also brought back the blue shorts, which Queensland had in their first couple of seasons.Image10

Sydney FC:

Sydney will apparently have a much plainer sky-blue kit next season. Will probably look something like this:


Wellington Phoenix:

Wellington will finally be in yellow and black stripes next year. Frankly, I think there’s very little chance this strip will look bad. My mock-up has more black than yellow, which I think keeps the kit looking a bit darker - like their current kit.


Well, there you go. I’m pretty confident that next year we’ll see a dramatic improvement in A-league kits. Even just the fact we’ll see games where neither team is wearing white will be a big step forward.

I can’t wait to see all the new designs.

Bye for now,