The Del Piero Deal Causes A Surge In Ticket Interest, Fan Club Membership
Sydney FC "has received an instant boost from its signing of Italian football great Alessandro Del Piero," with huge numbers of fans logging on to its ticketing websites and fan forums on Thursday, according to the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. The interest was "so great" that the A-League club extended its deadline for club membership renewals by 48 hours, "hoping to cash in" on Del Piero's arrival and recoup some of the reported A$4M ($4.1M) it will pay the Italian over two seasons. Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley said that Del Piero's signing would "boost the A-League's global image and accelerate the growth of the competition." Buckley: "Undoubtedly, this signing will have an immediate impact on attendances, membership, TV ratings and corporate support for the club and the A-League" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 9/6). In Sydney, Sebastian Hassett reported that with Del Piero's "coveted signature secured" Sydney will embark on "an audacious plan to double their crowds and sign 10,000 members." Averaging an 11,816 crowd from 14 matches last season, the Sky Blues' execs now believe "they can now break through an average crowd of 20,000." Although "ambitious as that all seems, a string of inviting fixtures awaits" that could attract crowds up 25,000, as long as the Sky Blues are winning. Del Piero's first home game will be against Newcastle on Oct. 13 and "is sure to bank a 30,000 crowd, and there is already talk it could be far higher" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 9/7).
EXCITEMENT ALL AROUND: Also in Sydney, Peter Kogoy wrote Del Piero's decision to sign with Sydney "was a way of wanting to give something back to the game." Del Piero said, "It is also about a new jersey, a new league, a new life and a new everything. I want to leave a legacy." The 37-year-old believes "he still has plenty to offer the game in Australia." Del Piero: "I'm old, but not enough to remember what it was like for a Pelé at the New York Cosmos. Like Pelé, I too want to create something special in my time in Sydney" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/6). The enthusiasm shared amongst Sydney fans has been reflected in a number of Australian newspapers. A headline from The Sydney Morning Herald read: "Ciao! $4m Del Piero signs for two years." The Australian: "It's true, Del Piero signed, sealed." The Herald Sun: "Fans clamouring to watch Alessandro Del Piero in action for Sydney FC" (SBD Global).