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Great progress has been made with the Australian soccer league set-up over the last few years but will soccer ever as popular in Australia as it is in England?

Will the growing number of UK expats help to grow soccer in Australia?
 

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Great progress has been made with the Australian soccer league set-up over the last few years but will soccer ever as popular in Australia as it is in England?

Will the growing number of UK expats help to grow soccer in Australia?
Will it ever be as popular?

Good question and the only real indication of this would be a percentage based on population that watch the games and participate.

Soccer (or more commonly called Football in the Australian soccer community) was once very popular back in the 60's/70's. Especially on the East Coast of Australia. Many many cultural communities provided great support for their team which was heavily influenced by their nation of birth.
The problem rose when these teams would play and coincidently their home nations were fighting. Incidents of Croatian and Serbian teams having many many fights and flare ups at games between players and supporters were rife.

The A-League was established on part due to this reason. The old NSL started to lose supporters due to this violence and also some corruption (be it within owners/board members or player selections) and soon it was losing money.

The A-League was created with a direct rule which prevented clubs being offiliated with any ethnic ties and team colours are also not to reflect any nations.
The A-League is growing and this year has done significantly well over previous years, both in quality of play and supporter turn out. Thanks Del Piero, Heskey and Shinji Ono.

Will the English migrants help? Absolutely. I see this in my weekend team in Perth. My actual club has about 90% players and member who are English. The rest are first generation Australian with UK Parents.

Will it ever be as popular as the English game though?
There are a couple factors to consider here which influence this comparison.

The English Premier League has been around for a long time, however only called the EPL with the significant monitory benefits since about 1990 I believe.
The EPL does not have a salary cap. The A-League does - a low one in comparison to the vast amounts of monies in Europe.
This prevents the best players from coming to Australia due to the high wages that can be earned in England, Europe, Nth America or Asia. However this is also the reason why it is such a close league year in and year out and we have had many different winners in it's short history.
The EPL has promotion to it and relegation from it.
This is in my eyes a direct result of a few things. Population, short travel distances and sponsorship dollars.
53 Mil in 2011 for England - 22 Mil for Australia.
England fits pretty much between Melbourne and Sydney and that is the most that the clubs have to travel. Perth and NZ have to fly 8 hours for one of their away games every year and Perth fly's between 4/5 hours every away game (apart from Adelaide - Derby? haha).
English clubs compete in Europe, and therefor sponsorship is considerably higher due to the viewers, but also because the quality is one of, if not, the best leagues in the world.

Lastly, England has hosted a World Cup and Won in 66. Australia can not host one (due to recent dodgy decisions by FIFA to give the WC 2018 to Oman - smaller than Tasmania) until 2022 I think. Russia has the following one after Oman.
If Australia had been able to host, then popularity would have been significantly increased on the wave of recent times. As it was, our entry into the 2006 World Cup in Germany provided the general Australian Public with a better appreciation of the world game and great drama.

As you probably already know, Australia has to compete with the popular game of Australian Rules Football (AFL), National Rugby League (NRL and best Rugby league competition in the world), Rugby Union and Cricket.
Most of the supporters are sport supporters and support multiple teams in various leagues already.

So unless we increase/remove the Salary Cap, double our population, increase sponsorship and host a WC and potentially make a Final or win it (One Day we will!), then I doubt in my lifetime, we'll ever see it as big as in England unfortunately.

Even still, the competition is good. We are getting better every year and hopefully we can translate that into Asian Champion League titles.

Here's hoping.

Hopefully I have answered your question with a more rounded reasoning, than just a YES/NO answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Crasht

Some excellent points there and a great answer to the question.

A couple of points I would like to pick up on :-

Money - unfortunately without the ability to pay "large" wages the Australian Soccer clubs will only likely to be able to afford good young players or those reaching the end of their careers (and often after one last big pay day).

The World Cup - Your points about the World Cup are spot on and you only have to see the impact the World Cup in the US had on soccer/football over there.

I also think the expat influence will grow and grow although with the current structure (and apparent in fighting within the game about TV money, etc - I read this somewhere recently?) I am not sure how large the game can grow in Australia in the short to medium term.
 
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