The Crows and Magpies belong in an AFL reserves competition first and foremost.
Secondly, the AFL need to have no footy scheduled on a Saturday afternoons to allow the SANFL space to breathe and to promote the product.
The bottom line is though that the Adelaide Crows and Port Magpies will remain in the SANFL for the foreseeable future and the SANFL fixture will probably never be given free air.
That doesn’t mean though that in 2017 some major gripes cannot be fixed in order to go some way in winning back the fan and increasing attendances at SANFL matches.
Here is ten things I’d like to see done differently in 2017.
Call it what it is –
Get the media on board calling the competition by it’s real name. It is now SAN-ful, not S-A-N-F-L. Too many people including some who should know better are not following protocol here!
Bye bye bye –
The bye must go. I realise the AFL reserves teams must have a week off when the AFL team has the bye, so work around that. But give everyone one week off during the year and that is it. Teams do not need every third week off. That is ridiculous. Keep it consistent and keep the momentum going.
This also means that the State game has to go. It has no relevance or place anymore and needs to be put on the scrap heap.
There should be no circumstances where an AFL reserves team plays at the same time as the AFL team equivalent. This occurring was absolutely ridiculous on a couple of occasions in 2016. It means that people who like to go to both cannot do that. All this does is impact negatively on crowd numbers and adds to frustrations from the AFL clubs and fans.
Return the finals to the suburbs
Adelaide Oval is too big for SANFL finals now. Play the Grand Final there, but give teams a home advantage in the corresponding lead up finals. A packed out suburban ground would create atmosphere, increase revenue for clubs and remove the worry of schedule clashes with AFL finals at Adelaide Oval.
Imagine a packed out Unley Oval or Hickinbotham Oval. That would be brilliant.
Fix the rules
The holding the ball rule was once umpired brilliantly in the SANFL. Now it is so confusing and inconsistent that I actually do not know what the offical interpretation is. Clean that up. Last touch also needs to go.
Stop using the game as an experimental competition. The SANFL is much more than that. Keep the rules the same as they are at AFL level.
Remove the TV product
Rumours are circulating that Channel 7 do not want the rights for 2017. Maybe we are all looking at this as a negative, when maybe it is not. Perhaps the SANFL needs to be removed from free to air television. It is impacting on crowd numbers. Encourage people to go to the games or get people to sign up for a live stream subscription service at a cost if they wish to stay at home and watch it.
Make it more family friendly.
Sure there is a family friendly area at most games, but why stop there? Make the entire event smoke free, crack down on unruly behaviour, spend money on more kids activities, increase give aways. I remember as a kid going to SANFL games and getting footballs emblazoned with sponsor logos and club colours. What ever happened to that?
Bid for more NAB Challenge Games
The hosting of NAB Challenge games has done great things for the facilities at Richmond, Elizabeth and Unley Oval. Time for the rest of the SANFL grounds to have a crack at hosting one too to upgrade goal posts and infrastructure.
Improve the social media element
All clubs need to have verified Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Most of them currently look like they are run out of a high school computer room. Use them to not only promote the games, but do special features on players, give away tickets, promote upcoming events. There is so much that could be done with this to give the game exposure.
Memo to SANFL clubs – I’m happy to give you a hand with your social media presence free of charge if you need me to!
Keep it simple on game day
People are time poor in this day and age. They just want to go to a game of footy to watch a game of footy. They want their children safe and entertained and a product on the field that resembles Australian Rules Football. Keep admission prices reasonable (they currently are) and keep food and drink prices down. Simple.
The SANFL has such an important place in South Australian sporting folklore. It is worth saving. It has a long way to go, but if change isn’t made now, this competition risks heading into an even further rapid decline over the next couple of years.