Bosnich: A-League on the rise, not dwindling

Mark Bosnich says television ratings that reveal the A-League is languishing behind rival sports this summer do not tell the full story.

Mark Bosnich says television ratings that reveal the A-League is languishing behind rival sports this summer do not tell the full story.

Sports commentator Gerard Whateley penned a column in the Herald-Sun that derided Football Federation Australia chief David Gallop's pre-Christmas statement that the A-League was an unstoppable force.

The fledgling Big Bash League went on to draw mostly larger crowds and completely dominated the television ratings across the holiday period.

For example, a marquee A-League fixture when Melbourne Victory hosted Western Sydney Wanderers attracted 109,000 viewers while a seemingly routine cricket encounter between Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers topped 750,000.

A-League is televised free to air on SBS 2, but only Friday night matches, the rest are on subscription TV.

The highest rating A-League game last weekend had 83,000 tuning into free to air TV and 94,000 on pay TV. That's dwarfed by the Ashes (1,550,000), Big Bash League (681,000) and the Brisbane International the (260,000).

But former Socceroo and Fox Sports television commentator Bosnich told SEN those statistics were misleading.

"Statistics are a bit like bikinis – they show you are a lot but not everything," he said.

"The general nature of what he wrote was wrong.

"You can't use statistics in terms of comparing us to the Big Bash. Remember only 30 per cent of the population have pay TV and 100 per cent have free to air.

"Our viewing figures at Fox Sports are up with the corresponding time last year by six per cent. The crowd figures are up on the corresponding round last year and 12 per cent overall," Bosnich said.

Bosnich acknowledged rival codes had enjoyed more significant spikes in popularity.

"We have got a lot of work to do to get our sport up as high as it possibly can be," he said.

"AFL and rugby league in the winter are two juggernaut sports that we actually look up to and cricket has had an absolute golden summer and the performance against England has inspired a nation - we realise that.

"But when I saw the article I just thought it was wrong. To compare it to Big Bash on free-to-air is just unfair. Our figures are up."

Bosnich did not believe recent crowd violence had hurt the A-League's popularity.

"Other sports have their problems as well. For example, we had the problem in AFL with the drugs thing with Essendon. No-one alleges ever that it is the same problem at all the clubs…."

"It perturbs me when people try to paint the A-League as down when the game is growing and it has done every year," he said.

Bosnich said extra police at A-League matches was the best way to stamp out violence and the lighting of flares.

"Flares are wrong and it is a problem and we have to eradicate them from the game. Unfortunately some people think it is cool to bring them to the game. They have to make sure they pat people down before they go in."

"All it takes is for some to get seriously hurt or worse and that's going to be real problems for the game."