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Sydney fans desert Swans
WWOS staff
13:00 AEST Fri Sep 5 2008
  Have your say on the battle for Sydney's west.

Has Sydney's love affair with AFL come to an end?

On Saturday night, the Swans play North Melbourne in the Elimination Final at ANZ Stadium and alarmingly, by close of business on Thursday only 16,033 tickets had been sold.

The Swans had originally hoped to attract around 50,000 fans to the ground but it would appear as though that number will have to be reassessed. At capacity, ANZ Stadium can seat 81,500 football fans.

Swans coach Paul Roos told Fairfax newspapers that the Elimination Final was a great opportunity to promote the game ahead of the AFL’s push into Western Sydney in 2012 but thought in this case, the AFL had missed the boat.

"If I was running the AFL and you wanted a second team in Sydney, you'd probably be doing as much as you could to make sure as many people turned up, and whether that's giving out free tickets out in Blacktown or whatever, I would have thought you would do everything you possibly could to have 60,000 people there. Now, whether that's giving away 20,000 tickets, so be it," he said.

The battle for the hearts and minds of Sydney's west has developed into arm wrestle between the old guard of rugby league and AFL, where participation rates for the latter have steadily increased for 15 years.

On Saturday night, two of the NRL’s final round games will be played within a 40km radius of ANZ Stadium, with the Parramatta Eels playing the New Zealand Warriors at Parramatta Stadium and the Penrith Panthers up against the Manly Sea Eagles at CUA Stadium at Penrith.

If the AFL wanted a true illustration of where western Sydney's loyalties lie, they may be disappointed.

The Panthers traditionally have a strong walk-up rate on game day but have so far sold around 1,200 tickets which according the media manager Andrew Farrell was unusual. Farrell told WWOS that if the rain stays away, the Penrith club was expecting a crowd of 12,000 – 14,000 people.

The Eels were unable to respond in time for this article.

The AFL claims that its marketing budget for this weekend has been spent entirely on advertising the Sydney match with the other games being played in the AFL dominated states, Victoria and South Australia.

WWOS spoke to the AFL's spokesman Patrick Keane and he was unsure as to why ticket sales for Saturday night were so slow.

"Maybe Swans fans are a bit pessimistic on how they'll go this season?" He mused.

One thing Keane was sure of however, was that the two rugby league matches had no bearing on the low numbers that had already secured tickets.

"It's Sydney's last game in New South Wales for the year… The AFL has averaged crowds of 35,000 in NSW this year so far so rugby league is not the problem," Keane said.

Both the AFL and the Swans will be hoping that there is a late rush at the ticket offices.

Will this be the Swans last game of the season?
Why do you think sales are slow for Swans tickets?
What would you rather go and watch?

User comments
With unbelievable wet cold weather, with a direct T.V coverage into Sydney, is it any wonder why the crowd attendence was down. Let's face it, the Swans draw much bigger crowds than any of the rugby league clubs do. In fact The Swans vs Collingwood game earlier this year drew a bigger crowd that the deciding rugby leauge State of Origin. It is only a matter of time before AFL replaces League as Sydney's number 1 football code, since the growth rate of juniors playing AFL is hot on the tail of league. Given the fact that the NRL does not have the $$, and the poor marketing of their games at a junior level, it is only a matter of time. Particularly, that the AFL will be launching a second side in the West, which is in the heartland territory of league.
ANZ Stadium is not our home ground-I would much rather the swannies playing at the SCG. The atmosphere is so much better. BUT any-way- we are going to send the Kangas home crying tonight.See you next week Doggies fans. GO SWANNIES
Its possibly the worst stadium to watch the AFL at! Play it at the SCG. All those people saying League is better thats the reason noone is going tonight, its nothing to do with that, AFL is actually gaining popularity in Sydney, i went to my brothers AFL grand final the other day and the place was packed! was good to see! I agree SCG is sooo much better, the game has a better atmosphere, you feel closer to the action, its more of a home ground advantage for the swans because its smaller and suits their style of play, plus the supporters can go out to the city after the game and party. Plus its not a mission to get to. The geelong semi in sydney in 05 was the best final ive been to, such a good atmosphere, il never forget it, why are we playing at ANZ while the AFL has done absolutely no advertising for the game. Dont blame the Swans, it isnt their fault.
We go to the swans to watch the footy, with the family. It's easy to get to from south and west of the city. The "after match activity" is irrelevant to us. The SCG for finals has about 25,000 tickets only for the public so it is pathetic. Anyone there for the 1996 finals was a part of a sold out 30,000 crowd with empty seats everywhere in the members when Plugger was kicking his point. The swannies will kick some north *** and after last night have a good draw against the bullies next week. Go you good things.
Up the mighty Wallabies! We should all focus on the world game, Rugby Union and to a lesser extent League. We have one of the top teams in the world but only a small percentage of the population following them. Imagine what we could do if everybody backed the Wallabies, the All Black and Springboks would be *** themselves. Abolish the AFL, send some of those strong boots across to Union and League, toughen them up and lets go out and show the world that we are the best! Interesting to note that in the recent Aus vs South Africa match in AFL dominated Perth. Subiaco oval recorded its highest attendance ever. Maybe the switch has started!
Sydney people love the Swans but also love the SCG where you can go somewhere else in town after the match. North don't have many loyal supporters as we know from non-supporters buying memberships this year and so, wrong ground and a visiting team with few members-supporters interested. The AFL have botched this one big time, it's not Sydneys fault!
Its not the game but the ground. I would much rather go to the SCG and watch a game due to the feeling of it is a night out. ANZ has nothing around it, nothing to do before or after the match, go to the SCG, you can catch a train to central you can have a nice meal at surry hills before at any of the resturants, have a beer at numerous pubs, walk another 10 mins be at the ground see a match and than carry on afterwards, heading back into the city. ANZ is a hotdog, 1 pub, and than wait 2 hours to get out of the carpark (if driving, and why not as there is nothing around to do), the closest entertainment would be parramatta.
Paul Roos doesn't say much but whenever he does it's worth listening to. Where is the advertising from the AFL for this match? The AFL needs to realise that the Sydney media are all about league at this time of year and the AFL is a sometimes interesting sideshow. Sydney doesn't look like winning this year so they are not too interested. If the AFL are serious about promoting the game interstate they need to recognise that unlike Melbourne, Sydney is not a one sport town. You have to work hard to compete. Something the AFL has consistently failed to do. Despite their claims of wanting to spread the game they remain ambivilent about the whole thing. It's ok to have teams interstate, as long as they don't win anything. I will add too, that $70 for a premium ticket is way over the top for a lot of people when you add transport and food costs. What are they thinking?
I can't believe the situation in Sydney. I am a Power fan from Adelaide and I think it is crazy that the final is being held at ANZ Stadium. Yes I have been to Sydney many times. I believe from what I have seen there are these facts. 1. The youth in Sydney is growing in interst in AFL. Only use this to strength the Swans marketing and membership and player potential NOT a second team. 2. Tassie needs a team before Sydney needs a second one. 3. SCG is your home ground and this is where you should hold finals for home ground advantage. What are the AFL thinking and thank god your only playing the Kangers so you may have chance!
Swans supporters are fickle group. If winning they will go any where to watch the game. If not winning only the real die hard supporters go. There are about 10,000 die hards. Also the SCG is the home of the Swans. Swans supporters are mainly eastern suburbs and North shore based. ANZ is out of the way. Second team in the golden west? Na! a Tassie team will be more successful and it will almost a national game - Northern Territory? Now there's a thought!
I think it is pretty obvious! The Swans fans are not dedicated enough to pay for the tickets and support their team! Probably because they know they are not in with a grand final chance. Swans fans have been spoiled the past few years, with successful finals campaigns, this year its all been a bit ho hum, so the interest and committment is not there. Ticket sales will only deteriorate as the swans success does! Swans supporters should try being fans of some victorian teams, that go DECADES without having successful finals campaigns yet fans stick with their team through the good and bad times.
AFL is a *** sport played by girls in short skirts. We hate it, don't want it and this is the proof you need. Go away!
The Swans fans will turn up en masse tomorrow night - at the end of the day AFL fans are more loyal and keen to show up in numbers than those of soccer or rugby. Sadly the AFL has done a poor job in promoting this match, but we will still see a crowd of claose to 50,000!!
Come on now 17million and playing all codes,we are a jack of all sports and master of none.Why dont we take up darts as well.
I have been a swans member for 18years each year i buy 2 memberships and along with a mate or my daughter go out and cheer the team on. It is great they have made the finals , however,the tickets are way too expensive and at $5 for a beer and $4.50 for a lukewarm pie to go and sit out in the freezing cold bowl at homebush is hardly good value. Move it back to the SCG and do what Souths used to do at my local, leave a stack of tickets on the bar. Fill the place up. Send North Melbourne back to Arden Street with their ears ringing . Cheer Cheer the red and the white ....Go Swans !!!
Given that AFL is pretty much a crap game, scrapy and uneventful Sydney is finally waking up to this. Rugby League is the No 1 NSW sport and always will be. Sure crowds in AFL are always much bigger than NRL, but with the ticket pricing, scheduling of too many TV games and wrong game times in the NRL its just not family friendly. The swans have had their fanfare in sydney and now people realise how bad a game it they just dont care anymore. Relocate the team to Tasmania and get on with the real football game..Rugby League!
When will they understand that the problem is Homebush. Homebush is a cold cavenous out-post that has nothing around it to entertain the fans before or after the game. Getting there is an exercise in logistics and a quick exit to get out to the after game entertainment (sydney's club precinct), forget it. Especially if we lose. As soon as they demolish the bloody thing the better. No one likes, it every one hates going there. Give me a break. It is not rocket science. *** the venue off, or leave it to the NRL. Get back to the SCG for ALL home matches, or suffer the consequences.
The swanies might not be playing quite as well this year but the main reason ticket sales are down is the stadium. The Swans are meant to have a home final, meaning the SCG, not an away final in Sydney at ANZ Stadium. Send them back to their home the SCG and the crowds will come. The SCG is a better ground to watch just about anything
As a loyal fan who is going to the game I was more than dissatisfied with the ticketing process and the fact that the game is being played at ANZ and not the SCG. Transport will probably be an issue as usual with you being expected to stand for an hour going to and coming home from the game as there are not enough buses . Not issue at t As one of a group of five who go together I was unable to purchase 5 tickets together as you could only purchase 4 in one transaction. We have ended up with 3 sitting in one section and two in another. Totally frustrating and unacceptable. I was patient and waited in a queue only to be frustrated at being told that whilst I was entitled to purchase 8 tickets per membership I could only purchase 4 per transaction. I could also not purchase the concession memberships for my colleagues and had to pay full price as I did not have their membership cards and mine was full price. If you want people to attend games, make it easier to purchase finals ticket
The game should be played at the SCG, that is the Swans home ground not bloody gobush. I would go if it was at the SCG - I follow Essendon and went to gobush this year but will never go back - I love AFL and will watch any game but never again at gobush
It will be the Swans last game in 2008. The tix are slow because its Sydney, NSW. Non AFL state. I'll watch every game if I can!! As for the second team, that's more Andrew Dimetriou brilliance coming to the surface. What's next Andy? The Indian Elephants, I say 1. Assign the Swans a decent ground and that will attract crowds. 2. Forget the second team in Sydney. It's just AFL's latest grab for cash. 3. Forget the second Qld team as well. Can never work. 4. Put a team in Tassy - they deserve it more than some Vic teams deserve to survive. 5. Give AD the flick. He is absolutely out of his depth.
The AFL is too greedy. Why play the game at ANZ ? Why not at the SCG. If the Lions had made the finals they wouldn't have been playing the game at Suncorp. The officials from both AFL and NRL have got dollar sign glasses on. They think that if you move a game to a massive stadium that a massive crowd will turn up. WRONG. The way to create an atmosphere that newcomers will want to be a part of is to play in a full smaller stadium with a few dissapointed people having to be locked out. That's what makes a game that you remember and want to be part of, not a sea of empty seats coloured to make it not look so bad when no one turns up. And people are struggling financially at the moment and dont have a few hundred bucks to spend on footy tickets and footy food. Greedy little pigs is what the footy officials are.
ANZ is definately the wrong stadium to be playing such an important match... SCG pulls in the numbers for sure. But to win... GO NORTH MELBOURNE!!!!!
I live in Sydney (right next to ANZ satdium), and have been brought up watching rugby league. I'v only ever been to 1 AFL match in my life and enjoyed watching Sydney beat Collingwood at the SCG several yrs ago. I like AFL but am not passionate about it. If there is a league game and an AFL game on TV at the same time, I'd watch the league no matter who was playing in either match (Swans included). Why is Melbourne not that interested in League? I think the answer is similar to the reason why a 2nd AFL team won't work in Sydney. We're 2 cities that follow 2 different footy codes. We've been brought up on it and thats just the way it is. Vic, SA
The AFL must be delusional if they think going into Western Sydney and the Gold coast will be a success. The Gold "Coasters" are they kidding. They will be lucky to get 10,000 peolpe to a game. Why not focus on the current competition rather than preaching to people who cant stand AFL football. If they are so determined to expand why not expand further into the AFL dominated states. Why not give Tassie a go??
league rules all the way!
The raeson there there are no tickets selling is because no one is western Sydney gives a a toss about the southern game, they are kidding themselves if the think otherwise Blacktown Council should be ashamed of themselves for wasting rate payers money on this ridiculous sport that was made to keep cricketers fit during the off season.
The reason why there are no tickets seeling is no one in Western Sydney gives a toss about the southern game, they are kidding themselves if they think other wise.
the bottom line is play the elimination final at the swans home ground, the SCG. the players want it, the supporters want it. leave the worst sporting arena ever built for the western suburbs and its new team in a few years time. the swans should be playing at the cricket ground. plain and simple. then we will get a crowd and a legitimate home ground atmosphere. can someone just *** homebush up!
I agree with Angry. Can't believe the AFL is still full-steam ahead on a second team for Sydney. I'm not anti-Swans in any way but I'm hoping the crowd at ANZ is tiny to demonstrate to the AFL that one Sydney team is more than enough. I am one of the thousands of Hobartians that made the 2 and a half hour trip north to Launceston to watch the Tassie Hawks play four home and away games this season. I don't even support Hawthorn but I love footy as do about 400,000 other Tasmanians. Tassie already has sponsors lining up to support the team that will probably never get the go ahead due to the AFL's greedy ambitions to access Australia's fastest growing economies and populations. We're tired of seeing Tassie continuously overlooked and all our young footballing talent going to the mainland. The AFL needs to reward one of the heartlands of footy with a team of its own before venturing any further into Rugby League territory.

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