James Johnson thrilled with increased fan engagement for Socceroos and Matildas

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has revealed that in spite of COVID-19 related challenges, digital and social engagement figures have surged for both the Socceroos and Matildas.

FFA Chief Executive Officer James Johnson was delighted to announce the increased engagement levels, despite the pandemic halting matches and camps for Australia’s two senior national football teams throughout 2020.

“In the Post Summer 2020 BenchMark Report released by True North Research earlier this year, both our senior national teams rated strongly,” Johnson said.

“The Socceroos had the highest familiarity in the report, with nearly 80 per cent of all Australian sports followers familiar with the team, while the Westfield Matildas came first in emotional connection to all Australian sports followers.”

Johnson added that FFA’s in-house digital and social media team have proactively adapted FFA’s content offerings throughout the pandemic in response to traditionally peak performing periods around international fixtures having been postponed.

“We recognised at the start of the pandemic that there was a likelihood domestic football and a host of international match activity in 2020 could be affected by the COVID-19 situation, and moved swiftly to pivot some of our planning to ensure that our supporters retained, or even grew, their connections to the game and our iconic senior sides throughout this challenging period,” he said

FFA has adopted creative strategies for both the men’s and women’s digital strategies throughout 2020. These include leveraging the successful FIFA Women’s World Cup bid for the Matildas and taking a more retrospective approach for the Socceroos.

Australia’s winning bid to co-host the Women’s World Cup has been one of 2020’s highpoints.

“On the back of the euphoric announcement that Australia, together with New Zealand, will host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, combined with the movement of many leading Matildas players to globally recognised clubs abroad, we’ve focused on creating content that takes fans behind the scenes and into the lives of our elite female footballers, enabling them to gain a closer understanding of the people and their personalities.

“For the Socceroos, we have focused intently on the culture and history of the team, who in 2022 – a FIFA World Cup year – will celebrate a century of activity. This has included re-living many historic moments and matches and covering them as if social media existed when they occurred. This rich and reflective coverage has resulted in the Socceroos’ digital and social media accounts delivering more video views between April and June 2020 with no matches, than in the nine months prior.

In terms of tangible engagement, highlights of the past 12 months for the Westfield Matildas include a 121 per cent increase in total minutes viewed on Facebook, a 157 per cent increase in overall hours of video viewed across all platforms, and a 9.3 per cent increase in total followers to over 355,000 followers.

The recently launched FFA TikTok channel has also earned strong early engagement, with experienced defender Alanna Kennedy’s training clip edging towards three million views.

The Socceroos’ approach has resulted in a 244 per cent increase in total video views across all platforms, while total hours of video content consumed has risen by 355 per cent year-on-year. Remarkably, 81 per cent of all Socceroos video content consumed throughout last financial year occurred during the COVID-19 period between April and June. The Socceroos have a cumulative social following of over 1.1 million fans.

“Our intent is to continue evolving our digital and social products to ensure that we enhance our connection with our football community, involve fans in the journeys of our teams and players both in and out of peak match and competition periods, and deliver consistent value to our partners,” Johnson concluded.

Newcastle Jets secure A-League future with new owners confirmed

Newcastle Jets have confirmed Maverick Sports Partners as the Club’s new owners. This ownership, subject to final approval from the APL and Football Australia, will launch a “new era” for the Jets under MSP ownership.

This massive announcement comes not long after Australian Professional Leagues chairman Stephen Conroy failed to guarantee Newcastle’s future only three months ago.

The statement said that Maverick Sports Partners have confirmed an agreement to acquire the Newcastle Jets Football Club and are now deeply focused on implementing their plans to bring long term stability and success to this Club.

The Group lead by experienced sports administrator Maurice Bisetto who played a major part in the establishment of Western United FC in the A-Leagues.

Maverick Sports Group is an Australian sports consortium based out of Wetherhill Park in Sydney’s South-West.

Newcastle Jets CEO Shane Mattiske confirmed the significant news.

“Today is a hugely significant day for this Club and this community, as we confirm Maverick Sports Partners as the new owners of the Jets,” said Mattiske in a club statement.

“Over the last three years, we have built a strong foundation for the future of this football club, and it is exciting to be beginning a new era with incoming owners who believe in the opportunity that exists with this Club, with this community and with football as a whole.

“Throughout our process, Maurice Bisetto, the consortium representative, and his partners have demonstrated a deep understanding of football and how to bring success. They also understand this community and their plans are very much aligned with the work that is already underway. I know the Group will bring positive new thinking, new connections and a wealth of experience that will drive the growth of this Club moving forward.

“With this transition to a permanent ownership structure, it is important to acknowledge the support that the outgoing ownership group has provided to the Club over the last three and a half years. These owners believed in the importance of this Club to this community and to the A-Leagues’ competition as a whole.

“They have played a hugely significant role in the history of this Club and on behalf of all fans and stakeholders of the Jets I want to acknowledge the commitment and contribution they have made to us all. Their huge support of this Club will forever be remembered.”

Maverick Sports Partners Director Maurice Bisetto is determined to connect with the Newcastle, Hunter Valley and Northern NSW Community.

“We believe in this Club, the A-Leagues and its players and we’re determined to build success for the Jets and this region,” said Bisetto in a statement.

“We have been impressed by the strength of football here in this region. We know there is a strong historical fanbase and a strong participation base here and we want to bring all of these people together for our Men’s and Women’s games.

“Our team at Maverick Sports Partners are absolutely committed to, and very excited, about the opportunity that exists here at the Newcastle Jets. We see this as the beginning of a new era for the Newcastle Jets and look forward to building a truly great Club with the support of this community.”

This news is huge for the league and the Jets financially, with the club no longer being a financial responsibility for the four other A-League clubs that funded them (Sydney FC, Western Sydney, Western United and Wellington Phoenix).

The Jets can easily recruit players and rebuild to become a stronger unit on the field whilst securing stability off it, and the foundation A-League club with a healthy fanbase and great location can continue to exist.

Iconic Lambert Park re-opens after $2m refurbishment

Lambert Park, home of the APIA Leichardt Football Club, officially re-opened on the weekend after a successful $2m refurbishment.

The extensive investment for the iconic local club includes:

– Replacement of the all-weather playing surface

– Improved drainage

– New concrete edge, stairs and fencing around the perimeter

– Improved access with a new ramp to allow access on the field

The ground is gradually improving to become one of the premier NPL surfaces in the country and this is another one of many recent upgrades helped by the commitment of the Inner West Council.

Currently the ground has two main stands on either side of the playing surface. In the southern stands, there are dressing room facilities, a social club with views of the game, press facilities and media facilities.

On Sunday, the new look Lambert Park was the home for the APIA Leichardt vs Gladesville Ravens NPL Women’s game, and the day was spent in celebration of the refurbishment, as the club organised an event.

The event included an official ceremony by Inner West Council pre-game, free ice cream and activations which drew a decent crowd to the game.

APIA posted an update regarding Sunday’s re-opening.

“Lambert Park was filled with Maroon and Blue as over 400 predominantly female footballers celebrated the $2 million Lambert Park upgrade,” APIA confirmed on their social media accounts.

“The day was filled with some fantastic football and some great activations and enjoyed by all.

“The clubs would also like to thank local clubs Balmain & District Football Club, Leichardt Saints and opponents on the day Gladesville Ravens Women’s NPL football for supporting the day.

“It was a special day for football in our community.”

Lambert Park is an iconic ground that has seen some of Australia’s best names start their careers there since it was first used in 1954.

APIA Leichardt Football Club has produced more Matildas and Socceroos than any other club in Australian history.

The ground gets another much deserved upgrade and will continue to host NPL NSW matches across all age groups in both men’s and women’s competitions.

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