Feature

Victory v Juve crowd shows big names not the only ones staying at home

Empty seats were the big talking point after Saturday's opening International Champions Cup Australia clash between Italian champions Juventus and Melbourne Victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Empty mcg

Source: Getty Images

The ICC was the hottest ticket in Australian sport in July 2015 as 99,175 football fans filled the MCG last season to witness Real Madrid play Manchester City in a pre-season exhibition match.

Just 12 months on only 23,174 fans passed through the gates at the same ground as Juventus took on home town heroes Melbourne Victory in the first match of the 2016 edition of the ICC.

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While there are two more matches to be played as part of the pre-season tournament at the MCG featuring big guns Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid, Saturday night’s paltry crowd begs the question – Has the gloss worn off international pre-season tours in Australia?

During the past eight years Australian football fans have had unprecedented opportunity to see some of Europe’s biggest clubs in their own backyard.

Fans have rushed to snap up tickets at premium prices to see the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Real Madrid, Villarreal, AS Roma, Juventus and Celtic play pre-season matches - often without their biggest stars.

Australian football fans this year have once again been punished by a jam-packed international football schedule with Juventus, Tottenham and Atletico Madrid travelling to Australia without their most recognisable players.

While Tuesday night’s clash between Spurs and the Bianconeri will be a better test of public interest in the competition, factors such as a lack of marquee players, ticket prices and scheduling have combined to take a serious toll on overall anticipation and sales for the pre-season festival of football.

Melbourne sports fans have a reputation for their support of sports events with Melbourne Victory boasting an average attendance of 23,112 in 2015 while in 2016 all Victorian AFL sides have averaged in excess of 30,000 fans a match.

Both Juventus and Victory performed admirably last weekend and put on an entertaining display for those in attendance, but Australian fans hold high standards and a match featuring predominantly second string players didn’t hold the same appeal as last year’s competition.

The ICC is contracted to take place for two more seasons, while Arsenal will play two matches in Sydney next year - with tickets already on sale and reportedly selling well.



Organisers for both events will surely hope to learn a lesson or two from this season’s downturn in crowd numbers to ensure it’s a one off.


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3 min read
Published 26 July 2016 at 4:20pm
By Nick Houghton