Five 2017 sporting predictions

1. GWS will be hard to beat
They went very close in 2016, but the rising Greater Western Sydney Giants would have to have something go terribly wrong to not be participating in the 2017 AFL Grand Final. The addition of Brett Deledio in the off-season and another pre-season for their rising stars will have them perfectly placed for a premiership run. It is a scary thought for seventeen other AFL clubs.

2. Adelaide United will have a new coach
The Reds had a successful first half of 2016, but their second half was an absolute disaster. This year, with up to 80% of their squad out of contract and a brutal AFC Champions League campaign about to begin, it is hard to see a resurgence under current coach Guillermo Amor. He will be remembered as one of the most successful appointments at the Club, but you feel given the current state of play and the fact that he remains unsigned, that the end is near.

3. Expansion will be the buzzword
Expect announcements throughout the year for further clubs to be added to the A-League, NBL and BBL. These teams may take a few years to be introduced, but once one sport announces an expansion, a flow on effect will ensue. The big question is whether after years of being shunned, will Tasmania finally get another state based team that they can support? The NBL will likely look further than Australian shores, while a third team from Victoria seems a likely option for the A-League. Regional areas such as Geelong and perhaps even the sporting graveyard, the Gold Coast are on the BBL radar.

4. Television and ratings will be watched like never before
There has been a strong shift away from worrying about how many are at the game to how many are at home watching it on television. It is for this reason that Christmas Day BBL will get a run, if not this year, most certainly next. Saturday nights seem to be the prime slot now for the sporting free to air market, with the Suncorp Super Netball competition and now most likely the A-League heading down that path. Television is driving the sports dollar in ways we have never seen. As such, it will demand more too, with players likely to be asked to do more media as deals continue to increase.

5. Netball will be the most fascinating experiment to watch in the opening year
This is the most intriguing of experiments for mine. Netball is sacrificing having every game available to fans every week on pay television to having two games on free to air television. It will be fascinating to watch how the new Suncorp Super Netball competition plays out. Talent is very much skewed to two or three clubs. Will having an initial unbalanced competition sit well with fans? Will having two games a week hidden away by Telstra cause the game to suffer? Can the grassroots remain as strong without ANZ’s backing? How will Channel Nine (9GEM) promote and support the sport? There is so much to sort through in the world of netball in 2017 and it will at times be a bumpy ride while it finds its feet.

A HUGE year of sport officially starts today and there is plenty to look forward to. January brings us the Australian Open and the Tour Down Under as well as One Day International and Twenty20 cricket. The A-League and NBL seasons continue and fascination will occur as Australia picks a squad for their cricket tour of India.

Let’s get into it!

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