A good team will bring the crowds

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 15:40 16/01/2014

OPINION: If Wellington Phoenix play attractive, winning football, and are near the top of the A-League ladder, crowds will flock to Westpac Stadium.

I've said this to so many people on so many occasions that it's become something of a mantra.

In my heart, I hope it's true. But on reflection I haven't based it on anything other than my inherent wish for the Nix to attract big crowds.

The Phoenix's best season was 2009-10 when a rampaging Paul Ifill set the league on fire. The team played an attractive style to finish the regular season in fourth place. They came within one game of making the grand final.

Not withstanding the two elimination finals played that year at Westpac Stadium - the proceeds from those games went to Football Federation Australia - the average crowd was about 9000 (and that includes more than 19,000 who attended the club's first "home" match in Christchurch).

That is well below the 10,000-average that club owners say is required to meet the financial break-even point.

I'd like to think that if we end up with an attacking team that tops the ladder for weeks on end then crowds during the regular season would swell  to 12,000 or more.

However, that might just be a pipe dream. Maybe the best we can expect is large crowds at the business end of the season, and then only if we host elimination finals.

We are privileged in Wellington to have New Zealand's only professional football team. Those Wellingtonians who consider themselves fans while watching the Nix at home on TV should keep that in mind and get down to the Cake Tin to shout for the boys.

Saturday night's clash with glamour club Melbourne Victory would be a good time to start.

- The Dominion Post

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