The goal posts are up, the members are pumped and the excitement is building for football fans in Australia with the 2018/9 A-League season getting underway tonight in Adelaide.
Therefore with the season starting in less than 12 hours I thought I’d put a quick run down together this morning to shine a light on what the A-League teams across the country are looking to do this season to engage their fans.
This is by no means the definitive list of ideas, activations and initiatives but it does highlight some of the little touches that teams and the league have worked on to improve over the off-season for fans. I believe that they’re listening to fans and trying hard to improve the football fan experience across both the A-League and W-League and this small snapshot provides a glimpse into what fans can expect this year with there no doubt also being bigger things to come.
Have you seen something else from your team? Let me know and I’ll include it.
Let’s get started…
Adelaide have created a new fan village and are also offering fans cheap $4 parking options for members who show their card at the Entertainment Centre which is sure to address a common pain point for families and fans around starting and ending the fan journey seamlessly.
AUFC have revamped the match day experience for supporters coming to Coopers Stadium. The area for fans will be surrounded by white picket fencing, accompanied by music and lit up with festoon lighting to enhance the festival of football atmosphere. Three food trucks will be within the vicinity of the village along with a PIMM’s bar marquee and Coopers Bar, accompanied with barrels and umbrellas scattered around the precinct for fans to congregate while talking about the upcoming game. Sounds like a nice set up for fans to mingle pre-game.
For fans young and old there are free wallpapers on their site too and a highlight thats impressed many families has been their personalised members packs.
Brisbane Roar are doing a lot of good things right at the moment and their junior pathways program, Roar Rascals is no exception. The program see’s Brisbane Roar FC offer all QLD FFA registered junior footballers aged 11 years or younger the opportunity to experience a Hyundai A-League game from some of the best seats in the house.
As a Roar Rascals Member in 2018 these fans receive:
- A family pass (2A+2J) to the Hyundai A-League Round 2 clash against Wellington Phoenix at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, 28 October.
- Exclusive junior offers and discounts across the club
The Roar are taking a whole of club photo next weekend and have also offered ticketing incentives like offering free upgrades from Orange to Silver seats for Sunday’s clash against the Mariners.
Central Coast Mariners
Central Coast Mariners have so far held a Family Day, set up an away day venue for fans and are also offering inspiring people from the community to be chosen as the game day coin tosser. The CCM along with sponsor Newcastle Permanent Building Society have also established a schools program focused on getting more kids in the area active.
Melbourne City are offering all members the chance to try out their new craft beer collaboration with official craft beer sponsor of the team, Stomping Ground Brewery with a special launch where all members will receive one free tinnie of the new ‘City Pale Ale‘.
One membership option from City also gives fans a free can of this beer before some games as well this season.
City held a massive family day for fans, are offering fans free family passes through McDonalds meals, included coffee cups in their members packs (how iconically Melbourne!) and are bringing back their impressive City Square fan zone for game days that will feature live music, food trucks, giveaways, football clinics, competitions, and interviews with players and special guests.
The team has also partnered with Sports Hosts which connects international visitors with passionate local hosts to take these people to experience a City match day. Well done to Darren and the team at Sports Hosts on establishing another partnership.
Melbourne Victory have a strong social game for fans, created this doco on their finals run last season, utilised their fan base for a new campaign for #ThisGirlCanVIC, have put the call out to fans to contribute for the game day playlist and through one sponsor are offering fans $10 off their electricity bill for every game they go to.
On game days Victory are running the ‘Fantastic Four’ competition which is their way of recognising and rewarding member attendance throughout the season. The competition will run every three months with participation based on attendance throughout the season.
Victory Village will also be up and running on game days with plenty of entertainment for the whole family pre-match and as an example of whats to come this season will feature the following at tomorrow’s Melbourne Derby:
- Championship trophy
- TAC: At the TAC Locker Room fans can get a different player sticker each game with tomorrow featuring Georg Niedermeier.
- Face Painting
- Inflatable pitch
Along with all the other teams and the FFA, Victory also have these fantastic teacher resources for schools and teachers to utilise. As a former school teacher I’m a huge fan of these resources. If any of my colleagues at A-League club land can shoot me over some of these worksheets I’d love to have a look and promote to my teacher friends across Australia.
Newcastle are listening to their fans by running a fan forum looking at active support and what they can do to get even more fans out to McDonald Jones Stadium on A-League game days. Go along if you’re in Newcastle.
The team made this brilliant brand campaign video too.
This season we’ll show everyone what we’re made of #MadeOfNewcastle
— NEWCASTLE JETS FC ✈️ (@NewcastleJetsFC) October 11, 2018
The Jets have also enlisted the support of a fan to provide match day stats along with running a fan day and some quality kids clinics in the lead up to the season.
The Jets:CONNECT program is also worth a look to see how the Jets engage the local community through football and especially young fans through primary school visits and coaching clinics.
The Glory are engaging with participants of all ages and abilities while assisting in the progression of football in Australia through the ‘2&5 – Primary School Programs‘ where their staff run many quality programs throughout the school term for children at metropolitan and regional primary schools.
Working with WA start up QuizJam the Glory also offer their fans the chance to play a host of fun quizzes to keep them engaged. A start-up worth checking out for other teams too.
Perth have revamped their huge fan zone that for the 2018/9 season will feature:
· Small Sided Games
· QBE Inflatable pitch
· Inflatable Bungee Run
· Hit! 92.9 DJ and Hit! Squad
· Face Painters
· Bubble Artist
· Inflatable Dartboard
· Jungle Sports junior football
· Player signings
There are also a heap of quality ticketing incentives for Glory fans such as family tickets and free entry for registered female footballers.
Sydney have a huge opening game planned with Aussie band The Ruben’s set to perform live in a pre-match gig ahead of the Sydney Derby. A fitting band considering members are also Sydney FC fans themselves.
Sydney FC were one of only a couple of clubs to feature an A-Z and stadium map info on their site and I’d highly encourage the other teams to make this information readily available along with making email sign up’s more prominent on their respective websites to enable fans to be able to better plan the fan journey.
Sydney also have an exclusive away day bar venue available for fans at The Star while they’re also calling on fans to decide what goes on the game day playlist.
Teacher’s, school kids and fans should also take note as the Sky Blues also have a Teacher Ambassador Program that will resource and recognise teachers who actively promote Sydney FC at their school and with as many students as possible. Can’t wait to pass this on to my teacher buddies in NSW.
I’ll be coming along to the Sydney FC double header game on Sunday November 25 at Jubilee Oval to take in the Sydney FC fan experience and I’ll be looking to chat to some Blues fans about the team as well. Hit me up if you’re going along that game day.
The Phoenix have a couple of fun activations planned for game day for Welly fans with the ‘Cash The Gate‘ comp that sees the Nix pay out the crowd number in cash to one lucky fan in the crowd, should the crowd exceed 10,000.
Probably one of the most exciting hospitality fan engagement packages any A-League fan can do is the Garage Project Fan Zone which is the perfect spot to view the game at pitch level, while sampling the best craft beers, wine and food Wellington has to offer. I can’t wait to get back to Wellington and Westpac Stadium soon to try this. Garage Project’s craft beers are some of the best in the world and a visit to Wellington for a game day at Westpac Stadium should be on your venue bucket list.
However probably the most impressive piece of fan engagement from Wellington is the inclusive initiative they have with regards to their free memberships for recently settled refugees.
The Football Diversity and Inclusion Programme (FDIP) is an initiative between Wellington Phoenix, the Human Rights Commission, Red Cross, ChangeMakers, Multicultural NZ and the region’s City Councils and will see Wellington Phoenix offer 2018/19 season tickets for recently resettled refugees and people from low socioeconomic communities in the Wellington region serving as a recognition of the important role sport plays in building bridges between individuals and across communities.
Taking it one step further in 2018/19 the club also told me that they’ll be providing free packed lunches and transport as well to ensure fans can have the best fan experience and become life long fans. Brave to the Phoenix for this inclusive initiative.
Western Sydney Wanderers
To round things out and to ensure the growth of football across Australia it’s great to see that the Wanderers are taking a game to the bush and visiting Mudgee in November. Now that’s an away day game not to be missed.
I’ll be heading along to the Wanderers A/W-League games in Sydney on November 23/24 and as always keen to chat to fans. Let me know if you’re attending and up for a chat.
Thus concludes a quick recap of the fan engagement initiatives from across the A-League clubs as we get underway with the 2018/19 season tonight.
I believe that the passion from the fans is the strongest in Australian sport and needs to be harnessed even more from FFA and the teams however I think they’re doing that well with this list showcasing some key tenets of what fan engagement should be about such as inclusion, authenticity and actively listening to fans.
The positivity around football in Australia continues to build so regardless of what team you support lets all continue to bring the atmosphere to game days and get out there and pack the venues.
Bring on another fantastic season of football in Australia with the A-League and W-League seasons!