Eddy Bosnar – a former Young Socceroo and currently playing in the J-League with Shimizu S-Pulse – shares his ideas for A-League success with the PFA.
As an Australian professional footballer that has played abroad for many years I am concerned for the game in our country. Having experienced the magic of football at many different levels and lived in some of the world’s great cities, football’s power never amazes me. But we have to learn the fundamental elements that make the game unique.

For me, the stadium is the key to everything. It is where a club’s spirit lives. It is where a club’s tradition develops. It is also the place where a club should drive its revenue.

In my opinion, most A-League Clubs have got this part of their existence wrong.
I currently play in the best club competition in Asia – the J-League. The J-League has two divisions, 36 clubs (it started with 10 in 1993) and a supporter base that truly adores the game. Most of the smaller to average size J-League Clubs are located in stadiums that have been designed to just fit their support base. It means the atmosphere created on game day is electrifying. It ensures that the game looks and sounds exhilarating to the viewers watching at home. It enables football’s passion to ooze out of every element of the game’s presentation. At the end of the game, fans leave wanting to experience more football.

This strategy also assists clubs to generate fundamental game day revenue by containing hosting costs and increasing the number of engaged fans that attend as enthusiasm for a prized home ticket is increased. It is a strategy that is common in the countries I have played in and an undeniable imperative that a football club must get right.

So why have so many A-League clubs so far got it wrong? At a time when the A-League is producing some of the best football in our history (I always tune in to the coverage in Japan), why are we still dealing with questions on the viability of some A-League clubs?

I grew up supporting Sydney United in the old NSL. For all that I hear about the negative elements of the NSL, when you went to the venues that housed the clubs, you could feel their heritage. The grounds had atmosphere. Their existence meant something to those in attendance. For all that was wrong with the game at that time, the spirit that drove the clubs needed to be preserved.

I think that there are many venues that we could consider to host A-League football in this country that will help create a new football spirit. I do not accept that we need to spend millions developing these venues. For example, the West Tigers play their games at Leichardt Oval in the NRL and it is an atmosphere to die for. It has tradition. It has spirit. We can do the same.

Why can’t we play football at Perry Park in Brisbane (with some cost effective modifications)? Why not a venue like Leichardt Oval? Kogarah in Sydney’s South is also one of football’s Australian heartlands. 10,000 fans in these venues (or venues located in these regions) would generate an atmosphere that is an improvement on most of the current A-League venues.

I feel for the players that are currently going through some concerns about the stability of their playing contracts in the A-League. I too have experienced this in my career and not knowing if your next pay packet will arrive is very stressful. I wish them all the best at this difficult time.

I feel passionately that football in Australia has a fantastic future but we need to learn the lessons already learnt from other nations – and the J-League is a pretty good place to start.