Football

Premier League teams packing stadiums in Australia

Joel Smith | Monday 4th October 2021
A full MCG for Liverpool v Melbourne Victory in 2013

When it comes to breaking Australian attendance records in football, games involving Premier League teams that are usually the ones to do it.

The Premier League is undoubtably the most popular football league in the world, and in any given preseason, those teams get out around the world to promote their brand. They travel to the United States, Asia and Australia to reach global fans whilst keeping their competitive performances for a home audience. Sadly, this season is one of the first with no Socceroos in England’s top flight, but we have a former Premier League star set to light up Australia’s domestic competition.

Daniel Sturridge is a former England international who recently signed for A-League club Perth Glory, in a move that Perth Now suggest shocked the world. It will certainly make a change for Australian fans to see a Premier League quality player in competitive action rather than the usual friendlies, as he plies his trade in stadiums around the country, including Glory’s home ground, HBF Park.

Many of the pre-season games we see here in Australia involving top teams take place under the banner of a trophy of some description that few feel is prestigious. Nobody at Manchester City will rue missing out on the International Champions Cup in 2015, but miss out they did. Real Madrid won two legs of it, with games played in Australia, China and North America. The other winners were Paris St Germain, who topped a league of ten teams, but only played four games.

Whilst it wasn’t a prestigious tournament, it was a lucrative one, as many are. Not only do they expand a club’s global reach, but they break attendance records, not least here in Australia. Outside of the AFL and NRL, football drags in most fans, especially for what are glorified friendly matches. These are the three pre-season matches that saw Premier League clubs attract bumper crowds in Australia:

Sydney FC v Chelsea (2015) – 83,958
Stadium Australia

While Chelsea may not usually be considered as one of the biggest clubs in the world, the Premier League champions attracted a full house when they appeared at Stadium Australia back in 2015. Loic Remy hit the only goal in their 1-0 win, but the result didn’t mean too much, as it was a friendly game. There were no Aussies in the side, but Chelsea did once have Mark Bosnich on their books, which could account for their popularity. Of course, having Eden Hazard, one of the world’s best players at the time, certainly helped.

Melbourne Victory v Liverpool (2013) – 95,446
Melbourne Cricket Ground

Liverpool are one of the best-known football clubs in the world, and they were one of the first to feature an Australian player, Craig Johnston. As the BBC explains, he won a European Cup with the Reds and scored in an FA Cup final, which might explain their popularity here in Australia. They’re also hugely successful to this day; they’ve recently won both a Premier League title and are second-favourites in the latest Premier League odds with Ladbrokes to repeat that feat in 2022. They’re one of the most popular football teams globally, and that popularity was evident when they played A-League club Melbourne Victory at the MCG in 2013. The famous stadium close to its capacity for their first ever match in Australia, with captain Steven Gerrard and Iago Aspas scoring for the Reds.

Manchester City v Real Madrid (2015) – 99,382
Melbourne Cricket Ground

The International Champions Cup might not be the biggest tournament in the world, but in 2015, it attracted more supporters than the Champions League final in Turkey. While 71,942 watched Real Madrid win the Champions League in 2016, that was almost 30,000 fewer than those that witnessed them thrash Manchester City 4-1 in Melbourne. The attraction here is not just the two teams, but individual players. Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Sergio Ramos, David Silva and Raheem Sterling all played, adding to a capacity crowd at the MCG. Those watching were not disappointed as Ronaldo got his obligatory goal, to everyone’s delight.

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When it comes to breaking Australian attendance records in football, games involving Premier League teams that are usually the ones to do it.
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