Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Melbourne Victory wins on field but not in stands

Melbourne Victory, the sole franchise representing Australia's second largest city of 4 million in the new Australian national A-League, has received negative publicity for the cost of attending its games in the pre-season competition. Fans paid A$22 for entry to last Saturday night's game against Perth Glory, with children charged A$5 if they were not members and a crowd of only 4500-plus watched the game.

Tony Ising, the club's media manager, said the pricing structure was designed to reward supporters for becoming members. It also reflected the fact that unlike the Australian Football League and National Rugby League — which have television-rights deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars and whose clubs receive multimillion-dollar dividends from their governing bodies — Football Federation Australia is not yet in a position to help clubs subsidise entry prices.

When the regular season gets under way and Victory entertains Perth in its first home A-League game early next month, an adult wanting a one-off reserved-area seat will have to pay a minimum of A$35. The cheapest season tickets for the club will be A$160 (general admission).

Melbourne Storm, the Rugby League team playing at the same ground, charges A$16 for general admission, A$26 for a reserved seat and $A32 for a premium seat. Its cheapest general-admission season ticket is A$130.

Victory officials are hoping the club's impressive start in the pre-season competition will help convince potential investors to provide A$2 million towards the A$5 million it is seeking as a first-season capital base.

According to The Age, Club president Geoff Lord said potential corporate backers — many of them in attendance at Victory's win over Perth Glory — had indicated collectively they could tip as much as A$1.5 million into the business.

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