Straight from the stands

Australian Four Four Two - - NEWS - You can fol­low me or send me a tweet on @Kev­inAirs442 Kevin Airs Editor

Happy New Year. Okay, let’s set­tle for Bet­ter Than Last Year New Year. Yeah, yeah - okay, maybe still too op­ti­mistic. How about Let’s Just Try to Make It Through The Year New Year. Or... Can We At Least Sur­vive Un­til Aus­tralia Day New Year?

With a cloud of doom and gloom hang­ing over the world, at least we have foot­ball. Foot­ball never lets you down. Yeah, I can’t be­lieve I typed that ei­ther... For foot­ball in Aus­tralia though, there are signs it could be a great new year ahead. A new TV deal looks half­way com­plete with at least $57m a year in the bank from Fox Sports un­til 2023. There is also the ex­pec­ta­tion of an­other $10-15m a year from a new multi-chan­nel pack­age that could see the A-League at last go main­stream on one of the free-to-air chan­nels like Seven or Nine (al­beit most likely to be usu­ally on their sec­ondary chan­nels though). But the prospect of a Satur­day night Syd­ney or Mel­bourne derby on FTA, po­ten­tially on the main chan­nel, is prob­a­bly worth much, much more to foot­ball and the FFA than money. The ex­po­sure main­stream FTA could give to the sport for games like that could be piv­otal to chang­ing foot­ball for­tunes and pub­lic per­cep­tion of the sport in Aus­tralia. It’s vi­tal to get that deal right. The spec­tre of the old NSL deal with Seven still hangs over foot­ball. At the turn of the cen­tury, Seven’s TV bosses bought the rights to the NSL – then de­lib­er­ately kept foot­ball off the air to curry favour with the AFL. While a com­plete re­peat would never be pos­si­ble in the era of Fox Sports (you’d hope!), we can never again al­low main­stream TV to have that kind of power over the sport. A com­mit­ment to grow­ing the sport, and to pro­mot­ing the A-League and its

com­mu­nity, must be writ­ten in metaphor­i­cal blood into any con­tract with main­stream TV. Cen­tral to the agree­ment must be an ab­so­lute clearcut vow to broad­cast games live, in HD and pro­mote them in ad­vance at peak times on the main chan­nel to gen­er­ate in­ter­est and an au­di­ence, both for TV and in the sta­dium. Re­spect for fans and foot­ball fan cul­ture will be ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial. It can’t just be an ex­cuse for get­ting ac­cess to end­less hours of fan footage to be used later on A Cur­rent Af­fair etc... The op­por­tu­ni­ties are huge, the ex­tra cash is a nice bonus – and that’s even be­fore ex­pan­sion kicks in with two new teams hope­fully fol­low­ing next year. The world might be f*kt, but foot­ball’s look­ing good at least. Cheers!

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