The NRL has had a tough time with crowds this season. While loyal Queenslanders pack Lang Park every other week, attendances in Sydney have been poor to downright embarrassing, especially at the SFS and Homebush. While a packed Homebush for Origin is a marvellous sight, seeing only 10,000 show for a club game is a worry.
So what’s the problem?
Part of the issue is the scheduling. Thursday night football and the 6pm Friday game are becoming widely unpopular and inconvenient for fans. Ray Hadley’s Thursday commentary on Nine drives fans away and the early Friday game draws notoriously poor crowds.
There’s an easy fix here – cut the rounds from four days to three.
How is this done?
Friday night: 7:30pm on Nine, no doubt dominated by Brisbane.
Four Saturday games – Saturday afternoon double-header: (1pm and 3pm), followed by the usual Saturday night games at 5:30pm and 7:30pm. All these will be broadcast on Fox League, with the option for Nine to also broadcast the 7:30pm game.
Finish off the round with three Sunday games: one at 2pm (ideally in New Zealand), one at 4pm (the Channel Nine game) and the last game at 6:30pm on Fox League. The Sunday night game would finish at 8:30pm, plenty of time to get home before starting the new week.
Eight games over three days with two-three games on Nine and the rest on Fox League. Perfect.
No need to rush home on a Thursday night for work/school the next day or try to leave work early on a Friday and battle traffic to make the 6pm game.
Best of all, an even split between afternoon (two Saturday and two Sunday) and evening footy (Friday night, two Saturday night and Sunday night), which is far more fan friendly.