Perth Glory CEO Tony Pignata says the AFL scheduling West Coast and Fremantle fixtures to clash with Perth Glory games is a compliment to the growth of the A-League’s popularity in Australia.
The AFL season kicks off this evening, and the Eagles first home game – where they will unveil their premiership flag – clashes with Perth Glory’s blockbuster clash with Melbourne Victory at the same time on Saturday March 30.
“It is going to be impacting on us, but there will still be a very good crowd,” said Mr Pignata.
“If we didn’t have that game, the West Coast game, we probably would go close to 16-18,000 at the game.
“It’s a testament to our sport that they fixture something like that against one of our big games of the year, to be fair it’s probably a compliment as well.”
Perth Glory’s membership numbers are at an all-time high of more than 10,000 this season, however a number of those members spend their time following multiple sporting codes.
A survey taken at Glory’s most recent home game showed 17 per cent of those surveyed were also members of West Coast, Fremantle or Perth Scorchers, WA’s Big Bash League cricket team.
In a similar survey taken at another Glory home game 20 per cent of those surveyed were members of at least one of the same three teams.
“If you look at our 10,000 members, we’re going to have at least a thousand who are members of other clubs as well,” said Mr Pignata.
“It’s a fair number.”
Lauren Carbone, an Eagles member of 16 years and a Glory member since 1995, says she’s annoyed she has to choose between her two favourite teams when West Coast host Greater Western Sydney next Saturday night.
“It’s not fair for myself and other people who do like both codes,” said Mrs Carbone.
“I find it very annoying, I’m quite angry that we’re on at the same time.
“Obviously last year (West Coast) winning the flag was the best thing since sliced bread for me.
“The fact they’re going to be giving the premiership flag a big wave down at Optus Stadium I’m not missing out on that, not at all.”
For David Winkless, a Dockers and Glory member since 1997 and 2006 respectively, when his sides clash it’s the AFL that wins out.
“Since 2004 I’ve been involved with the (Fremantle) banner team,” said Mr Winkless.
“I help to hold up the banner as the players run through it and that’s a pretty important role obviously, I feel like I have to be there for that.
“Certainly it’s (fixture clashes) an issue that could be avoided, it frustrates me.
“I’ve got mates that support the Eagles, and they’ve got the dilemma coming up next weekend.
“Most of them are going to the first quarter of the Eagles to see the flag unfurling, and then they’re leaving that and watching the Glory.”
Despite the inconvenience to fans and the impact on home Glory crowds, Mr Pignata says re-arranging his side’s home games is not an option.
“No, we’ve got to stand alone as our own code,” he said.
“We’ve had our best season ever and our fans are enjoying the quality football we are playing.
“Unfortunately it happens there’s a rival code on the same time, but so be it.”