NOT A ONE-OFF: Jets fans at Saturday’s grand final. Newcastle will host the grand final again next year if the Jets are the highest-placed qualifiers, but the A-League says it will change the way tickets are allocated.
A-League boss Greg O’Rourke told the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday that the Hunter deserved to host future deciders after selling out McDonald Jones Stadium five days before the game.
The selection of grand final venues is up to the discretion of the league and is based on broadcaster preferences, commercial considerations and other factors.
Saturday’s grand final, marred by a decisive malfunction inthe video-review system, was the first to be held in a regional city, and Mr O’Rourke said he would not hesitate to bring the biggest game of the year back to the Hunter.
“I really feel quite disappointed about how it ended up, the game itself, with the controversy, because it was such a great experience, such a great experience for the game,” he said on Tuesday.
“Forsure, I would. If we didn’t have the controversy over the goal, the whole thing about having a packed stadium, having the whole city behind it, the pre-game entertainment seen pretty overwhelmingly as a hit, it just would have been such a great event.
“I think also the fact that it sold out so quickly enabled people to really focus on the build-up and the game rather than the marketing to buy tickets.
“There was no need for the narrative to be,‘You’ve got to go.You’ve got to get tickets.’That was already taken care of. It left a lot of media space and the marketing dollars just to focus on the game itself and not the commercial side.All those things were really positive for us.”
But Mr O’Rourke said club members would likely be limited to buying just six tickets, instead of 10, after many missed out on seats last week.
“We would change that. We’ve never experienced such a rush. People go, ‘You should have foreseen it.’ I accept the criticism of that, but those policies were written based on fan feedback in the past.”
It is understood a total of 6500 Jets and Melbourne Victory members bought out the 20,000 pre-sale tickets. TheJets have 9201 members and Victory 26,131, although many of these areincluded in family packages and not eligible to buy pre-sale tickets.
“I think six would be a better number than 10,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“I also think we might have capped it at less than 20,000. It didn’t really leave [enough]when you think about 4000 of the tickets go to pre-committed sponsors and clubs.
“Twenty thousand probably consumed too many on day one.”
Despite the sellout, some seats at the ground were empty, especially in front of the northern hill, and both grassed hills appeared to be at less than capacity.
Mr O’Rourke said the stadium’s operators had capped the crowd at about 29,500 and the official crowd figure was 29,410. The stadium’s website says the ground has a capacity of 30,000.
“There was some tickets blocked out for a few reasons. One of them was they didn’t want to sell row A, right on the fence, because they believed those tickets were too much of a restricted view.”
He also said some of the empty seats could be attributed to “no-shows”, especially in corporate areas.
The grand final proved a winner for the WIN Network’s One channel, which drew its highest ever audience figures during the game.
The game drew an average audience of 61,196in the Newcastle television market, or 49.9 per cent of commercial share,and 89,367 across northern NSW.