Off the Wall

I don't really have a problem with the suggestions from the CEO of the ARLC, David Smith, on attractions for fans at premiership matches.

Apart from missing the compulsory sausage sizzle, he really missed the point on why attendances are far, far short of what they ought to be. 

I take no notice whatsoever of the "spin" from his media minders on how crowd numbers are "growing".

There has been some extraordinary generosity in the "official" attendances issued by some clubs.

The Titans seem to always have an attendance of around 11,000-13,000.

If the figures are even remotely close to being accurate, then the Titans home ground can comfortably seat 40,000 - and not the stated figure of around 24,000-25,000.

But it is not only the Titans who issue attendance numbers that just defy comprehension. It is far too common - and it has been far too common for 30 or 40 years!

The reason why attendances are not growing as much as they should be, and why we have profoundly disappointing numbers such as we saw at  the City-Country match on Sunday, is that going to the footy is no longer "affordable" for many fans, and for families in particular. 

The admission fee for the City-Council match was as high as $50. Ridiculous - and reflective of the fact that the people running the game today (and that includes the NSWRL and QRL) are hopelessly out of touch.

I went to the Charity Shield game at the Olympic Stadium with Matt Starkey. The seat prices were reasonable, but, boy oh boy, did they sting you everywhere else.

The food and drink costs were outrageous - but that is the position at every game at any of the major stadiums.

I shudder to think what it would cost Mum, Dad and three school age children to go to a game at a major stadium - transport, admission, drink, food, and heaven forbid the program!

The challenge for Mr Smith and the Commission is to focus on "affordability" and then it can look at how to keep fans happy when they get them in their seats!

As with so much the ARLC does, it is putting the cart before the horse.

It is not a matter of how fans are entertained, it is whether they can afford to be entertained!

And until that issue is address, REAL growth in attendances will be at the very margin!