It’s time to crunch the numbers as the only measure of success

I’m getting sick of reading that our playing numbers are up again. It’s getting monotonous.
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Up 20 per cent this week and schools programs bursting at the seams. Last week, news that girls’ football has overtaken netball to become No.1.

I’m being facetious, of course, but not entirely without some truth in the statement, because the real question is what are we doing with the numbers?

We’ve always been the biggest. It’s just that now football’s popularity is translating into all sectors of society, across both genders, and all forms of the game.

But scale was never the main issue. Conversion was – turning our giant numbers into a unified machine that builds the game into the largest in the country, commercially.

That means crowds and broadcast revenues.

That is the last piece of the puzzle and one that we have not yet cracked.

Yes, every week there are more people playing football, but we can no longer be proud and pleased only at this. Scale is only of substantial value if we all pull together to build our league to the point where the funds start to trickle down, rather than up.

This is what I don’t understand: why the game hasn’t worked out yet that the vast majority of the ills we face are solved by getting everyone into stadiums, by working together for the common good.

The high cost of football is killing kids and parents. Get into stadiums, support a club, raise the broadcast numbers and a television deal 10 or 20 times that of today will deliver funds to every grassroots club in the country to lower the cost to play.

Lower costs means more talent, more participants, higher memberships in A-League clubs, a virtuous cycle.

I’ve written this several times over the past decade and the sad truth and the great challenge is we haven’t yet cracked it. The exciting part is what could we be if we did?

Many see the lack of big names this season as a major problem, whereas I look at the issue from the opposite viewpoint. When we all get into the stadiums, we’ll be able to afford any marquee in the world and compete with the United States’ Major League Soccer. Instead of expecting A-League clubs to spend more, let’s build the game’s revenues so that they can.

We should have 50,000-plus crowds at every game, feeding higher salaries to the players and more to spend on international marquees. A Del Piero for every club, and more than enough funds to feed many mouths.

Perhaps some incentivisation for grassroots clubs. It wouldn’t be difficult to monitor the number of attendees from any club, academy or school, which could translate to rewards that serve to create mutual benefits at all levels. A pull strategy, rather than push.

Whatever the mechanisms, we need innovative thinking, greater communication and more alignment of goals in the game so that everyone wins by working together.

It is simply not acceptable that at the same time as we announce greater and greater numbers of participants, which now happens on an annual basis, the professional competition is as yet commercially unstable.

Incredible numbers should automatically mean incredible strength.

But only if we all work together, at every level.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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