25 May 2018

Brumbies chief says there are enough fans for Raiders, Brumbies and A-league team

| Lachlan Roberts
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“There is certainly room for all of us and I think it adds to the richness of our community if we have more than one sport.” Photo: Supplied by Brumbies Rugby.

Brumbies CEO Michael Thomson believes there are enough fans to go around for the Raiders, Brumbies, and a professional football team in Canberra if the ACT’s bid for an A-league team is successful.

The Canberra A-League expansion team submitted their expression of interest to Football Federation Australia late last week and will compete against 14 other bids.

The Federation will decide on which two bids are successful in October, with the new teams kicking-off in the 2019-2020 A-League season.

The Brumbies chief is not worried about the increase in sporting rivals and believes there is enough room for all teams to get the support they need in Canberra.

Mr Thomson believes another sporting code in Canberra will enrich the community and was adamant the Brumbies will not change their model to compete with the growing market.

“If we look at Canberra and the greater region, there are about a million people who have varying affinities for teams and codes,” Mr Thomson said.

“What we have always found is that Canberrans support Canberrans and the region supports the region.

“We were up in Cootamundra three weeks ago on a Sunday, and I think 120 or 150 kids plus parents were out there. For us, it’s really about being the right organisation, doing the right things, connecting with the community, so this 15 for 15 initiative is a very important thing for us.

“I have said a number of times that we are a community club with a professional football team and we believe there is the support here for us.”

Mr Thomson pointed to the membership growth of the Canberra Raiders over the last three years as a positive sign of the potential for an increase in Super Rugby crowds if the Brumbies continue connecting with the community.

The Brumbies have drawn poor crowds this season. Photo: Photox – Canberra Photography Services.

“We work very closely with the Raiders and we have a very good relationship with the Raiders and you only have to see what has happened over time with them as well,” Mr Thomson said.

“There is certainly room for all of us and I think it adds to the richness of our community if we have more than one sport.”

He said the ACT Super rugby side would continue to push for afternoon games and will work with SANZAAR to avoid clashes of popular Canberra events.

“There are a couple of things that we push for: afternoon games, our home games earlier in the season so it doesn’t get too cold, and we also try to avoid a few major events,” Mr Thomson said.

“When we look at the crowds this year, probably two of the challenges we had at our games were Skyfire, which is a big event which attracts a lot of people and then we played Waratahs on Easter Saturday when a lot of Canberra clear out to the coast.

“Scheduling is a challenge, but again there is a lot of responsibility on us. If we play the right football and we play entertaining football and we continue to connect with our community, we are confident that people will come.”

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Capital Retro9:30 am 29 May 18

An A League team would also mean a huge subsidy from the sports mad ACT government (which they have already committed to anyhow).

I would prefer to see government money supporting a Canberra based A League team than the Sydney based GWS AFL team but support for all codes plus other professional team sports is not sustainable.

PS We don’t need another stadium.

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