Brisbane Football without diehard fans?

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Football (soccer to some) in Brisbane is reaching a tipping point this season as crowd figures drop, the city’s national league team fails to produce results at home and both newcomers to the game and long time fans lose interest in the team. With another local team entering the competition next season just an hour down the road the club needs to deal with these issues or lose even more supporters in the next season.

From the start the A-League and the clubs involved have targeted the family market at the expense of existing football fans. Most of the targeted demographic did not already follow a foreign team, or have any interest in the now defunct NSL. As many of us had suspected, and as has been demonstrated in the crowd figures, this market does not stick around when there is a losing streak. The league and some of the teams have failed to align themselves with the hopes and desires of the football public.

Briefly some of the main issues I have seen in Brisbane with the Queensland Roar have been:

  • Support of a fan group that has polarised the community and slowly imploded.
  • Neglecting to connect with existing football fans and players in Brisbane.
  • Lack of effective promotion efforts both above and below the line.
  • Released PR that represented the club’s attitude to its fan base in a negative way.
  • Mismanaged stadium security due to a ‘family friendly’ ethos.
  • Misalignment with expectations of what a football club should be.

The Queensland Roar in particular and the A-League in general have failed to capitalise on the opportunity that they had in an environment without competition. The Queensland Roar have failed to build a solid base of fans who will come to every game, regardless of ‘entertainment budget’, and are now in a position where something has to change.

The biggest issue facing the Queensland Roar is that it has not been a part of the community long enough to build a performance resistant supporter base. To deal with this the club needs to provide another reason or rationale for supporters to follow them regardless of the results.

The message that the Roar has been able to communicate is not one that a lot of fans are interested in. I suspect that the club, based on its behaviour, has forgotten that it has no natural right to its audience’s attention. To go all Seth Godin, no-one has to care about a brand. Ultimately it will be about what the brand has to offer the customer.

I think the Roar has acted as if this is not true.

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