A-League players will formally recognise the fans that show the greatest passion for their teams, with “atmosphere” to be added to the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) player ratings of A-League venues for the 2011/2012 A-League season.

PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab today said that the new PFA Stadium Rating System builds on the success of the PFA Pitch Rating System which over the past two A-League seasons has measured the quality of A-League playing surfaces.

“A-League players want to recognise the two key drivers of quality football in A-League stadia: (1) the playing surface; and (2) atmosphere, which can shape the intensity of the game,” Schwab said.

“A-League fans should not underestimate their capacity to positively influence the pace and pressure of a match, with the atmosphere they generate through chanting and colour adding to the already high levels of motivation among players.

“In the PFA’s pre-season visits to each A-League club, the players have spoken very enthusiastically about the importance of recognising the fans who are, together with the players, the game’s most important stakeholders,” Schwab added.

The PFA Stadium Rating System will now consist of two parts:

  • PLAYING SURFACE– the opposition captain will rate the playing surface out of 5 based on 4 criteria: (i) smoothness; (ii) pace; (iii) hardness; and (iv) overall; and
  • ATMOSPHERE– the opposition captain will rate the fan generated atmosphere out of 5.

At the end of the 2011/12 A-League home and away season, the PFA will present awards of recognition to the venues and ground managers responsible for preparing A-League playing surfaces, as well as to the A-League club and their official fan group who together create the most exciting A-League atmosphere.

“It doesn’t matter whether the fans cheer for or against you, they give you that little extra,” PFA President and Melbourne Heart defender Simon Colosimo said today.

“With Heart-Victory derbies, Sydney FC’s The Cove, Brisbane Roar’s The Orange Army and packed boutique venues such as at Perth Glory and Adelaide United, all A-League fans are capable of creating that unique experience that makes football a special game at home and around the world.  All should feel they are a chance of winning this award,” Colosimo added.

Mal Caddies, the Grounds Manager of Brisbane Roar’s Suncorp Stadium, has won the first two editions of the PFA’s Pitch Rating System, with his brilliant playing surfaces winning the plaudits of A-League players even in the weeks when Suncorp was recovering from Queensland’s devastating floods.