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FFA CEO, James Johnson, Says Sports Fans Will Always Attend Live Sport

F
ootball Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive officer, James Johnson, told Ministry of Sport, sports fans will always have an “interest and appetite” to “attend live sporting events”.

With live sports continuing to make their returns around Australia and the rest of the world despite ongoing battles with the COVID-19 pandemic, a constant talking point of late has been the re-introduction of fans into live events.

“We believe that so long as it is safe to do so, the interest and appetite will always exist for fans to attend live sporting events in Australia,” Johnson told Ministry of Sport.

“Australia is a sports-loving nation, and we have witnessed strong interest from club members and fans to access the limited numbers of Hyundai A-League tickets that are available at the moment due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

“As the restrictions ease over time, we believe Australian sports fans will return to stadiums and events across the country to support their favourite clubs and teams.

“In time, subject to a vaccine for COVID-19 being found, I believe attendance at live sports will return to how it was pre-pandemic,” he said, discussing what the lasting impact of COVID-19 on live sports would be.

“However, this period has forced many sports, including football, to evolve the way in which they communicate with fans, and innovate their matchday and non-matchday offerings.

“The digital disruption prompted by the pandemic will accelerate some evolutions to the game day experience moving forward,” Johnson said.

The Hyundai A-League made its return to action last weekend with limited fans able to attend each game, something Johnson said is crucial for FFA and its clubs.

“Having supporters in attendance at our competitions and events is highly important,” Johnson said.

“First and foremost, fans at A-League and W-League matches, FFA Cup fixtures, and our various National Team games, help to generate a special atmosphere and buzz that undoubtedly adds to the game and broadcast and serves to develop a sense of passion and community.

“For FFA and our clubs, ticket sales generate important revenue to help support many areas of the sport, and this loss of revenue has unfortunately been felt over the past few months,” he said.

When asked what advice Johnson would give sporting organisations in Australia planning how to get fans back in attendance at live events, he said working with government experts is key.

“I would simply encourage sporting organisations seeking to get fans back in attendance to liaise with relevant government bodies to obtain the latest advice and rules for each part of the nation,” Johnson said.

“Government have experts monitoring the COVID-19 situation and providing daily updates and advice and can help sporting organisations to understand the latest requirements and regulations around hosting fans at events,” he said.