31 August 2011
(Daily Telegraph, 31 August 2011)
The return of Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell to the A-League represents a unique opportunity for the code - but only if their clubs eschew headlines and glamour for a sustained campaign to win over future generations of fans.
There's also a lesson for the code to heed in another sport that failed to capitalise on a fleeting popularity, says Professor Francis Farrelly of the College of Business at RMIT.
He has consulted with a number of sports and leagues but pointed to the NBL as a case study to learn from.
"Two very high-profile people like Kewell and Emerton can have a huge impact but not without a proper strategy," he said.
"The best example I can give is a competition I did some work for, the National Basketball League. What the NBL was advised to do but chose not to was really use that time in the sun to invest in the grassroots, to create a following to sustain them.
"To me the A-League similarly needs to cement itself in this country, and they have a great opportunity with these two guys coming.”