Ben Buckley has warned Hyundai A-League clubs not to rest on their laurels despite all the excitement generated from a record-breaking start to the season.
Outgoing FFA chief Ben Buckley has warned A-League clubs not to rest on their laurels despite all the hype and excitement generated from a record-breaking start to the season.
The A-League has broken all kinds of attendance and TV viewing records over the first fortnight of the season, thanks largely to the effect of marquee signings like Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey.
Saturday night's first-ever Sydney derby is already a sell-out, continuing the feel-good start to the campaign.
While admitting the level of interest and the figures generated so far had come as a bit of a surprise, Buckley said there was no time to sit back and admire their work.
"It's been a fantastic few weeks there's no question about that," Buckley said.
"We've had record crowds, record TV ratings and we've got some incredibly exciting contests coming up over the next few weeks.
"Our crowd average is up 55 percent, TV audiences are up in excess of 30 percent again so that augurs well.
"But we've still got a lot of hard work to do. We're only up to round two.
"The clubs have worked very hard with their supporter bases over the off-season and we need to continue to work hard to constantly improve."
Asked what the key was to continuing the unprecedented hype surrounding the league, Buckley said: "It's not just clubs, it's the FFA and the A-League management and clubs working in partnership together to grow our membership base.
"We need to engage effectively with the community to take advantage of the potential that exists.
"That's about getting the marketing right, getting the membership packages right and those things by and large are going well this year."
Meanwhile, the FFA have signed a lucrative new deal with sports manufacturer Nike which will see the company continue to supply kits for national teams for the next 11 years.
While he wouldn't confirm the exact amount of the deal, Buckley said it is the most lucrative apparel agreement for any Australian national sporting team.
"The agreement goes way beyond the financial investment, to have a partner like Nike it is not just about the dollars," he said.
"It's obviously a long-term deal but its multi millions of dollars per annum and all that goes into supporting the growth of the game.
"It locks in substantial income on an annual basis for a long period of time and so then you can plan around that."