Archive for the ‘sport’ Category

Where Do I Sign Up? Part Two - Reserve Seating

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

First of all, I’d like to thank those who had input into this article; there has been some excellent feedback on part one, and I’ve incorporated some of the suggestions received into this piece. Again though, there is a limit to what we can examine, and items such as merchandise, stadium size, population centres, and the like remain out of scope.

Reserved Seating, like General Admission, is something that is present across all A-League clubs. Members who want a guaranteed seat every game can purchase a Reserve Seating membership and know they’ll be sitting in the same position every week. As a result, it is an option popular with families, older fans, and those who want to sit in the same bay as their friends week in, week out. Finally, a quick note- due to the odd method of fixturing that Football Federation Australia chooses to employ in the A-League, not all clubs play the same amount of games at home. It should be noted that in 2008-2009, Adelaide, Central Coast, Melbourne, and Wellington all play eleven home games. Perth, Sydney, Newcastle, and Queensland play only ten games at home. This should be taken into account when looking at the price of memberships.

So, without further adieu, let us take a look at what the different A-League clubs have to offer. And yes, as of 14 June 2008, there are still no membership details available for the Queensland Roar.

Reserved Seating

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Families

For those who read part one of this article, it should come as no surprise to see Sydney FC at the top of the tree for family pricing. A full season of ten home games with Reserved Seating will cost a Sydney family $418. What may come as a surprise is the performance of Perth Glory. At $46 a game, the Reserved Seating membership for a Perth family is actually the second cheapest in the league. Across eleven home games (one more than Perth) Wellington and Newcastle come close, but fail to match the value of the Glory ticket.

The Mariners are not far behind their rivals Newcastle in terms of pricing, but unfortunately for those families in Adelaide- and especially Melbourne- their teams fail to deliver any real value with the Reserved Seating family membership. Indeed, a Melboune family will pay $63 a game with their season ticket- almost twenty dollars higher than a Perth family, and even when compared to Sydney.

Concession

Concession Reserved Seating memberships are a very interesting category. Depending on the exchange rate when purchased, Wellington Pheonix memberships are probably the cheapest given that they are spread across eleven games. However, in terms of Australian clubs, it is Perth Glory with the cheapest Reserved Seating concession membership- only $13 a game. This beats even the previously dominant Sydney FC, who are still good value at $15.40 a game. Again though, it would be Adelaide and Melbourne fans who would feel the harshest done by. Essentially both clubs charge their concession members between $19 and $20 for Reserved Seating every game. This may come as a surprise to those critics who say that clubs in the east always offer the best deals to members; clearly, this is not the case.

Kids

In part one, Perth Glory FC was criticised for supplying the most expensive General Admission membership for children. In terms of Reserved Seating, they don’t even hold a candle to the Melbourne Victory. Victory kids will be able to purchase a seat this year for around $12.60 a game. To put that in context, the majority of the A-League will be supplying the same membership to kids for about $10 a game. In keeping with the overall trend of Reserve Seating tickets, Adelaide United are the second most expensive team for children. In a first, the Central Coast Mariners are the cheapest for children’s Reserve Seating. Even though they have eleven games to cater for, they are the only team to offer a price under $100; at $90, one would imagine that it would a be very attractive offer to those fans who would like to bring their young boy or girl along to games with them.

Adults

Another important membership category, and another win for Sydney FC in the price wars. For just a touch over $20 a game, a Sydney FC fan can have a seat reserved for them at every game. In fact, there is only 90c difference between a Sydney fan having a reserved seat and a Perth Glory fan getting General Admission at every match. Read into that what you will, but it is obvious that Sydney know how to make their offers attractive to the general public; and it must reflect on the depth of their financial backers’ pockets, for them to be able to afford these sorts of price schemes while still paying for the likes of John Aloisi, Simon Colosimo, and Mark Bridge to defect from their respective teams.

Newcastle are only just behind Sydney, their members paying just a little more and receiving one more game for the season. While all other clubs generally hover around a mark somewhere between $21 and $23, questions must be asked of Melbourne’s pricing strategy. Considering their team failed to make the finals last year, or progress in the ACL, they must essentially be banking on their fans wanting priority to get reserved seats at the new stadium- because their price for a season long Reserve Seating membership for an adult totals about $31.50 a match. No other club charges their members anywhere near as much; Adelaide is possibly the second most expensive- but they only charge $24 a match. If this author were a Melbourne Victory fan- and he’s happy he’s not- he would be asking some serious questions about this pricing policy.

Summary

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It must be said, you’d be pretty happy to read these articles if you were a Sydney FC member. If you look at the graph for the average Reserve Seating membership price across all categories, Sydney come out a clear winner, just like for General Admission. You’d also be pretty happy if you were a Wellington Pheonix supporter. Depending on the exchange rate at the time, Wellington members get their Reserve Seating memberships at the second or third cheapest price in the A-League. The same applies to Perth Glory supporters; evidently although there is often a lot of criticism levelled at the club by members, it would seem that- at least in terms of Reserve Seating pricing- they are receiving one of the better offers in the league. Granted, this needs to be transferred into on-field results too, but the club at least shows it understands this area of pricing.

Melbourne Victory have the worst value Reserve Seating memberships in the A-League. Adelaide aren’t that flash either, but when you consider that on average Melbournians pay over three dollars more for a seat every game than anyone else, you wonder how a club with such good General Admission prices tries to attract members to their second tier of pricing. Compared to Sydney FC, who also perform well in General Admission, Melbourne Reserve Seating prices are almost $10 a game more expensive.

It should be pointed out that Newcastle seem to be aiming their marketing of memberships towards those in Reserve Seating more so than General Admission. While they were the worst value per-game for General Admission, they are vastly better than either Melbourne or Adelaide for Reserve Seating, and are only just more expensive than local rivals Central Coast.

General Admission versus Reserve Seating

As you might remember from part one, Sydney were top dogs in terms of pricing their General Admission memberships. This remains the same in terms of Reserve Seating. Melbourne however takes a nose-dive and becomes the worst club for financial value of memberships. The following table shows how the A-League would pan out if the places were awarded for the overall value of a General Admission ticket per game:

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Sydney FC are undisputed champions, and they along with Melbourne, Wellington, and Adelaide will contest the A-League finals series. Central Coast miss out by a small margin, whilst Perth finish a mediocre sixth and Newcastle beat only the hapless Queensland, who are disqualified for having no prices whatsoever. It’s a different story for Reserve Seating though:

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Again, Sydney FC win the A-League regular season.

However, the margin of their win is much reduced, with Wellington Pheonix and Perth Glory essentially finishing equal second- a recount of points would be needed based on the exchange rate at any one time.

Central Coast have managed to climb into the finals series by finishing fourth ahead of close rivals Newcastle.

Adelaide have dropped out of the four based on what would normally be seen as the most expensive prices- but that title is taken by Melbourne, who take a spectacular dive from second to second last; rooted to the foot of the competition (bar Queensland) by a very long way. One wonders, given their performances last year, if the Victory can afford to maintain this pricing system if they have another lean year in 2008-2009.

Some, but not all, of these clubs also offer a third tier of membership.

These are the top individual seats outside of corporate seating, and will be examined in the third and final instalment of this article; we shall also explore the presence of associate or country memberships across the A-League.

- David Meacock

Where Do I Sign Up? Part One- General Admission

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

The Hyundai A-League is rapidly building up steam ahead of season 2008-2009. There are a slew of new signings across the league, players such as Nathan Burns and Bruce Djite are showing the young talent we can produce, and Adelaide United are demonstrating that Australian teams can be competitive in the Asian Champions League. All in all, it looks to be an exciting season ahead. This can only be a positive thing for the eight A-League clubs, most of whom are attempting to build on this by starting their 2008 membership drives. With this in mind, it’s interesting to examine what options the clubs are offering their members.

Before we begin, we should start by defining some criteria. It’s not really possible to examine every aspect of a membership in one article. Should there be a need for it, we may choose to visit items such as membership packs, fanbase size, etc. in future works. For this particular article, we’ll be looking at the ticket prices at each club across a generic three-step system. The lowest tier is General Admission, available across all clubs in the league. The second tier is Reserved Seating, wherein fans get a guaranteed seat at every game. The final tier, where applicable, is the top-level membership. These seats are the cream of the crop as far as single paying fans go, and probably the best tickets bar corporate seats.

One should also note that this information has been collected in a way perfectly accessible to the general public- all prices have been gleamed from club websites and membership brochures, and there has been no communication with any club with regards to pricing. It should also be noted that this research has had to be spread out over some time; some clubs, such as Sydney FC, have had prices and membership details available since post-Easter. By the start of June, only four clubs- Perth, Newcastle, Sydney and Adelaide, had membership brochures available. As of 12 June, all clubs bar one have their full membership information available online. However, with the pre-season cup only one month away, there is still no publicly available membership information from the Queensland Roar. As a result, their prices are missing from this article. Good work, you maroons.

Finally, for the purposes of simplicity the $NZ prices of Wellington Pheonix memberships have been converted using the NZ-AU exchange rate as of 10 June 2008, which is 0.794671 cents to the AU dollar.

General Admission

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Families

Families living in Sydney will appreciate the fact that Sydney FC has the cheapest General Admission family ticket of any club in Australia; a very impressive $298 for a full year’s football. Melbourne Victory are the next best, with a price of $370. Perth Glory and Wellington Pheonix come in with prices around the $400 mark, leaving the rest of the teams with prices around $450. Incidentally, Newcastle are the most expensive with a General Admission season ticket costing a family $460. Evidently, Sydney and Melbourne are both trying very hard to attract families to a full season of A-League football, while Newcastle are relying on their recent success to act as a driver for new memberships.

Concession

The same cannot be said of Concession tickets. Here, there are two distinct price brackets. Perth Glory and Wellington Pheonix have the cheapest Concession season tickets in the league, and head a price bracket that sits around the $110 mark. By contrast Adelaide, Central Coast and Newcastle united price their season-long Concessions at around $140-$150. Central Coast charge the most, $150 a season meaning that a Mariners-supporting student pays nearly 50% more than a Perth or New Zealand-based one.

It is interesting to note that the season-long General Admission concession ticket is the only one for which Sydney FC is not the cheapest club. While they are close, this honour would go to Wellington or the Glory, based upon exchange rates at the time. Students on the Central Coast of New South Wales would however have every right to ask their club why their ticket is nearly as expensive as a season-long adult one. To put it in perspective, there is almost a $100 difference between Perth’s student and adult tickets. Yet the Mariners have a scheme whereby being a student saves you only $40. One wonders why this should be the case; perhaps those students attending TAFE or University in the Gosford area are a lot richer than in this author’s own halcyon days of studentship.

Kids

Children form a good part of matchday crowds for A-League teams. The clubs, recognising this, have a membership package suited solely to those under the age of 16. For some clubs, this age is even lower- Sydney for example choose to have their kids ticket apply to those children aged 13 and under. This would go some way to explain why Sydney and Melbourne again have the cheapest tickets in the category. It would also explain why Perth, who set their age at 16 years, have a ticket price over twice that of Sydney- a whopping $100 for a season ticket. As a result, it is difficult to read too much into this category, with the exception being that Perth Glory have the most expensive Child season ticket in the A-League.

This is puzzling; there is a clear difference between a 10 year old child and a 17 year old student; yet for a season membership in Perth, they pay practically the same price. It would seem that every A-League club with the exception of Perth Glory has gone to some length to distinguish these price brackets; therefore it must be asked why the Glory have not adhered to this trend. Perhaps this is something the club can work to address in the future.

Adults

The backbone of any football match, the season-long General Admission adult ticket ensures a large number of supporters through the gate every week; and again, it is Sydney FC who lead the price wars, with a Sydney adult able to see a season’s full of football for under $150. This is $50 cheaper than the most expensive General Admission season pass in the league; that of Perth Glory. Perhaps they are still trying to regain fan numbers after the footballing debacle that was Terry Butcher- or maybe the board have realised the managerial merry-go-round has turned a few fans away. The rest of the teams sit in a group with $180-$190 considered a fair price. In fairness to the Glory though, they are only just above what seems to be the common A-League price for a season-long adult General Admission ticket.

Summary

Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC have the best-value General Admission tickets on average. Sydney’s average General Admission price of $152 is around $50 cheaper than most of its rivals. That is a very large difference. Melbourne is the next cheapest on $178, while the rest of the teams are much of a muchness, their average General Admission ticket price working out somewhere between $200 and $220. Newcastle United have the dubious distinction of being the most expensive club overall for General Admission tickets.

If teams were attempting to make the A-League finals based on General Admission prices, the ladder would seem a little like this:

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*Queensland Roar kicked out of the competition due to a failure to release membership information early enough.

There you have it; in terms of General Admission season ticket pricing, Perth Glory have made the A-League finals for the very first time. As usual, there has been some suspect play along the way- the pricing of Kids tickets made it look pretty dire for a while there, but overall some good solid play and a bit of luck- due to Queensland’s lacklustre planning- seems to have got the club over the line.

In terms of General Admission season pricing through, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory have more than accounted for the opposition. It seems fitting that two past A-League champions know how to price their tickets well to attract members. Which makes the performance of 2007 champions Newcastle all the more confusing. The only reasonable explanation would be that the club expects more members now that they’re champions, and wants to cash in on this for some extra revenue. It remains to be seen how this will work out.

Next time, we shall look at how the A-League clubs compare against Reserved Seating memberships. There are certainly some surprises in store, especially for fans of Perth Glory.

- David Meacock

Michael Clarke

Monday, January 7th, 2008

You won this test match for us Pup, but you didn’t win any admirers.

Grassing a catch but appealing for it anyway, and standing your ground when it was the most obvious nick in the history of batting dismissals does not show you in good light for a future captaincy role. Your time out of the game was supposed to bring you back a more mature player. Instead, you seem to have come back a harder, dirtier player. The two are not one and the same.

I don’t need you to walk like Gilly does; but to stand there when it’s clear to all that you’ve nicked it- in comparison to Andrew Symonds’ missed dismissal, where it wasn’t clear at all (and he had every right to therefore stay) - is just beyond bad sportsmanship.

Enjoy the headlines proclaiming you as our saviour- they hide the more unsavoury truth.