Open Letter to A-League Fans

Dear A-Leagues Fans,

There is a lot that has been said about the A-Leagues over the last couple of weeks, and so I wanted to communicate directly with you, our fans and address two key things; the changes that have taken place and what’s ahead for the A-Leagues.

The recent changes:

Since unbundling just over three years ago, we’ve implemented an aggressive 3 year growth strategy to fast track the leagues, focused on digital growth via the multifaceted KEEPUP business, and our core football product growth via our A-Leagues competitions.

After we launched this strategy, Covid re-emerged and greatly impacted our first year of operation, leading to the rescheduling of over 100 fixtures, the relocation of teams,  and a team that worked around the clock to keep our leagues going . Despite this, we’ve now seen three years of consecutive growth, turning around seven years of decline.

Now at the end of the initial three year strategy, the Board mandated a review which has led to some changes to parts of our digital strategy, while our A-Leagues strategy remains the same.

The new digital strategy will focus on growing and converting our core fanbase through aleagues.com.au, instead of the ‘casual fan’ that KEEPUP was targeting. With this, we will close KEEPUP as a content platform, but will continue to use many of the core elements of the data and digital infrastructure that benefits the league and our clubs.

This has been an extremely difficult process and as part of this review we had to say goodbye to a number of great people who have positively contributed to our game. 

As mentioned, the A-League’s business does not change. Whilst we have had good growth across our core metrics, we acknowledge more needs to be done to get the leagues where we want them to be, and sustainable A-Leagues growth will be the focus of our team.

The hard work continues, especially in these tough economic conditions but our aim remains the same; create the most exciting competitions possible for our fans – with strong teams producing great young players, male and female, across Australia and New Zealand.

What’s ahead?

I am happy to report that the A-Leagues we love are growing both on and off the field – with thanks to you our fans, sponsors and partners across the game.

At the halfway mark of the season, crowds across the Isuzu UTE A-League Men are up over 10% on last season. This growth is echoed by a remarkable season for our Liberty A-League Women, which last weekend continued a record-breaking streak by cracking over 200,000 spectators, with 7 rounds to go. While standalone women’s memberships have grown 669%.

In terms of television audiences, our Isuzu UTE A-League Men free-to-air audiences are up 9% compared to last season, and in the Liberty A-League Women, we’ve seen 120% growth on 10 Play, with every game live and free.

This season we also launched aleagues.com.au and revamped the KEEPUP app into an A-Leagues App. Since its inception, the league website has seen great growth in audience and engagement as have our club’s website which we built in parallel.

On the pitch, the football has been fantastic. In the Isuzu UTE A-League Men, we have seen a record number of match minutes for U-23 players, Socceroos starring and our homegrown talent catching the eye of some of the biggest clubs in the world.

In the Liberty A-League Women, Central Coast Mariners have re-entered the competition, and our first season in a full home and away format has delivered some fantastic football, with World Cup stars Cortnee Vine, Alex Chidiac, Kyah Simon, Tameka Yallop, Lydia Williams, Emily Van Egmond, Hannah Wilkinson and Rebekah Stott all shining alongside the next generation of stars Indiana Dos Santos, Daniela Galic and Hana Lowry (to name just a few).

We have also begun working through our domestic match calendar for next year, planning for the next iteration of Unite Round is already underway, and we are working through some other exciting announcements for the A-Leagues.

There is much to look forward to over the coming weeks as the title races heat up. Both the Liberty A-League Women’s and Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s competitions are incredibly open and with some of our biggest flagship fixtures coming up, we can expect an exciting run into the final series.

A number of fans have asked what they can do to help, and the answer is quite simple, continue to support your club by getting out to the games and watching them on Ch10 and Paramount+.

I look forward to seeing you out at a game soon.
Stephen Conroy
APL Chair