Make it a football festive season

Summer Football is well and truly upon us and so far it’s been a cracking start to festive football, I hope you can take the time to enjoy the remainder of it.

Five weeks into my role as FFA CEO I found myself at Maroubra Beach in Sydney for the Hyundai A-League Summer of Football launch.

It was another chance to get an insight to why our national competition is so unique.

The weather was pretty good, the waves looked enticing if you wanted to surf or swim, but the players, media and fans taking part were not thinking about holidays.

The A-League has scheduled 15 matches over 12 days in the Christmas and New Year period. For these committed people, football comes first no matter what time of the year it is.

The idea of playing so many compelling fixtures in the Christmas / New Year period when most people have leisure time on their hands makes lots of sense.

The reaction I-ve seen so far has reinforced my support of the strategic objective of taking the A-League to as many fans as possible by playing in “clear air”.

The first round of matches in the Summer of Football campaign produced excellent crowds and great football. There was no loss of intensity and emotion despite the arrival of the holiday season.

The sell-out for the Melbourne derby and the bumper crowd at Hunter Stadium were stand outs, but the attendances were robust across the board.

On a bigger scale, the same “clear air” strategy in moving to an October season kick off has proven to be a masterstroke.

It means the opening rounds are played without the congestion on the sports calendar that happens in September. This year the A-League not only had clear air in October, but also dominated the news media with the arrival of Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono.

I started my own Summer of Football campaign at AAMI Park to see the Melbourne derby for the first time, just a week after watching the Sydney derby.

Both matches produced tense, compelling and skillful derby football. The fans at both matches were incredible and they created a wonderful showcase for the A-League.

The A-League-s atmosphere is an absolutely unique selling point in our mission to increase attendances. There-s nothing else like it on our sports landscape for the week in, week out passion, colour and excitement.

I know of quite a few people who have come to sample the A-League this season and have become instant fans. By word of mouth they are spreading the positive message. It-s the best marketing we can ever do. I say thanks to all the fans who make the A-League so special.

This Festive season, I hope you can find time to relax and enjoy the company of loved ones.

There-s no better way to make it a truly football festive season than joining with family and friends at the Hyundai A-League.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all in the football community.