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What's Behind The Declining Attendances In Australian Soccer?

The Australian A-League is in the midst of its 14th season, and although there are plans to expand the league by two teams by the start of the 2019-20 campaign (Macarthur South West United and Western United FC), attendance numbers remain a concern. 

The league peaked with an average gate of 14,610 back in 2007-08, but that number has been steadily declining ever since. In fact, heading into this season, the A-League had experienced four straight years of dropping numbers. Last year, the average fell to 10,671 per game, and that number is only marginally better this season at 10,799.

At the top of the charts is Melbourne Victory, who average 22,536 spectators at AAMI Park (capacity 30,050). At the bottom is the Central Coast Mariners (yes, the club that had Usain Bolt on trial), who average 6,102 fans at Central Coast Stadium (capacity 20,119). 

A piece of good news for the league is that the Western Sydney Wanderers (second worst in the division with an average attendance of 8,335) will be moving from the oval-shaped Spotless Stadium to the brand-new Bankwest Stadium next season.

Also, Sydney FC is currently playing its home matches across three different grounds — Sydney Cricket Ground, Jubilee Oval and Leichhardt Oval — until the Sydney Football Stadium is rebuilt, which should be finished by 2022. 

Sydney Football Stadium

Concept image for Sydney Football Stadium. Photo: @stuartayresmp | Twitter

It’s interesting to note that while MLS is turning almost entirely to soccer-specific stadia, the A-League frequently shares grounds with teams from the National Rugby League, the Australian Football League and the Big Bash League. While the field dimensions between soccer and rugby make this venue-sharing somewhat negligible, it’s often disastrous for the pitch.

Also, a few teams (Sydney, Western Sydney and Wellington) currently play their matches in oval-shaped grounds, which offer terrible sight lines for many spectators.

The A-League is also unique in that the majority of the clubs either call Melbourne or Sydney home. These rivalries and local derbies often see matches moved into larger stadiums (like Marvel Stadium in Melbourne or ANZ Stadium in Sydney) for larger attendances. 

Having said that, here's a look at the 2018-19 A-League stadiums. As you'll see, not all grounds are created equally when it comes to watching soccer.

A-League Stadium Guide and Average Attendances 2019

Adelaide United

Coopers Stadium

Embed from Getty Images

Capacity: 16,500

Opened in 1960, renovated in 2000.

2018-19 Average Attendance: 8,830

High: 12,115 | Low: 7,071

Brisbane Roar

Suncorp Stadium

Brisbane Roar Suncorp Stadium

Photo: @FootballStadia1 | Twitter

Capacity: 52,500

Opened in 1914, redeveloped between 2001 and 2003.

2018-19 Average Attendance: 10,396

High: 15,129 | Low: 7,131 

Central Coast Mariners

Central Coast Stadium

Central Coast Stadium

Photo: @ALeague | Twitter

Capacity: 20,119

Opened in 2000.

2018-19 Average Attendance: 6,102

High: 8,923 | Low: 4,103 

Melbourne City



Photo: @aussiebeastmode | Twitter

Capacity: 30,050

Opened in 2010.

2018-19 Average Attendance: 8,925

High: 24,306 | Low: 5,149

Melbourne Victory



Photo: @nova100 | Twitter

Capacity: 30,050

Opened in 2010.

Marvel Stadium*

*For matches against Melbourne City, Western Sydney Wanderers, Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar. 

Marvel Stadium

Photo: @marvelstadiumau | Twitter

Capacity: 56,347

Opened in 2000. 

2018-19 Average Attendance: 22,536

High: 40,504 | Low: 16,508 

Newcastle Jets

McDonald Jones Stadium

McDonald Jones Stadium

Photo: @LawrieMcKinna | Twitter

Capacity: 33,000

Opened in 1970, renovated between 2003-05 and 2008-11.

2018-19 Average Attendance: 9,084

High: 11,814 | Low: 6,701

Perth Glory

HBF Park

HBF Park

Photo: @TheGloryPost | Twitter

Capacity: 20,500

Opened in 1910, renovated in 2004 and 2012.

2018-19 Average Attendance: 9,633

High: 11,393 | Low: 7,213

Sydney FC*

*Sydney FC plays at the following three grounds until the Sydney Football Stadium is rebuilt.

Jubilee Oval

Jubilee Oval

Photo: @joeBevacqua2 | Twitter

Capacity: 20,505

Opened in 1936, three-stage renovation between 2003-10.

Leichhardt Oval

Leichhardt Oval

Photo: @shannonbyrne23 | Twitter

Capacity: 20,000

Opened in 1934.

Sydney Cricket Ground*

*For matches against Western Sydney and Perth Glory

Sydney Cricket Ground

Photo: @PolskiWanderer | Twitter

Capacity: 45,500

Established in 1848.

2018-19 Average Attendance: 14,833

High: 30,588 | Low: 10,101

Wellington Phoenix

Westpac Stadium

Westpac Stadium

Photo: @amirkhirudin | Twitter

Capacity: 34,500

Opened in 2000. 

2018-19 Average Attendance: 8,586

High: 23,648 | Low: 4,829 

Western Sydney Wanderers*

*Western Sydney will move into the Bankwest Stadium next year.

Spotless Stadium

Spotless Stadium

Photo: @PolskiWanderer | Twitter

Capacity: 24,000

Opened in 1998, renovated in 2001.

ANZ Stadium*

*For matches against Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory 

ANZ Stadium

Photo: @Marouche_Sam | Twitter

Capacity: 84,000

Opened in 1999.

2018-19 Average Attendance: 8,335

High: 18,043 | Low: 5,067 

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