Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop revealed this week that the sport is struggling to find major sponsors for the national squad.
Speaking at the Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit at the MCG, Gallop admitted that the lack of interest in sponsoring the Socceroos is the game’s “biggest challenge”.
“We have some good supporters in particular the A-League with Hyundai, National Australia Bank and Qantas, and Westfield with the W-League, but the challenge for us is the Socceroos,” Gallop said.
“That’s where we don’t have a naming rights sponsor.
“I think it’s an interesting case study for Australian sport when we go and talk to companies about the Socceroos
“They say ‘how much access do we get to the players’ and the short answer is not much.
“Many of the players play overseas and come together for a relatively short period of time in Australia, there are narrow commercial windows.”
Gallop also said that companies are more willing to sponsor an AFL or NRL team, saying that “when the alternative is [sponsoring] Collingwood or South Sydney Rabbitohs, where you can get access to the players every week through your sponsorship…it makes it a real challenge for us”.
However, a better comparison can be drawn between football and the likes of cricket and rugby union, which also have national teams and have been able to pull in major sponsors.
The Wallabies have done a brilliant job at securing Qantas as a naming rights partner, while the team also has the likes of Samsung, HSBC, Swisse and BMW as major sponsors.
The Australian cricket team also boasts a long list of big name sponsors, such as VB, Commonwealth Bank, KFC, Gatorade and Bupa.
What the difference appears to be, is the clearly defined proposition and audience of cricket and union.
Both sports have a long and storied history in Australia and have a clearly defined audience for sponsors to aim their marketing at.
Football on the other hand is only recently starting to become a force in Australia and the sport is still very much figuring out its demographic.
Another challenge the sport faces is ensuring football fans in Australia follow the A-League, with only 22% of Australians who play football, following a team in the A-League.
Australian football must follow rugby and cricket’s lead and create a clearly defined audience to attract more sponsors to the Socceroos in the future.