What on earth does a visit from Barcelona FC do for football in Australia?

A-League, featured, football

With an apparent rebirth of the A-League All-Stars concept taking place as we speak, news broke late last week of the likelihood of a visit from Spanish giant Barcelona FC in either late May or early June.

Advanced discussions reportedly have the deal close to being done and with the newly branded Accor Stadium in Sydney a certain venue, more than 80,000 people would be expected to attend.

The quality of the squad brought to Australia would of course have a huge impact on any potential crowd figure, yet as has been the case with other major European club tours in the years prior to the pandemic, there seems little point in making the trip without bringing the bulk of the club’s best talent.

Australian fans will be champing at the bit to see players like Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, the other Adama Traore, Jordi Alba and Ferran Torres in the flesh, with a combined A-League team likely to be their opponent.

Should scheduling see any A-League Men finals’ play fall after the proposed Barcelona visit, the All-Stars would be then made up of players not involved in those fixtures, thus providing a brilliant opportunity for some who otherwise may not have received such a call up.

As a member of Accor Stadium my ticket is secured, yet my attendance questionable with doubts around the purpose, motivation and benefit of such visits by famous football clubs.

Emotionally it is a no brainer for some, thousands of people with Spanish and/or Barcelona blood in their veins would walk many a mile to see one of world football’s most famous clubs on our shores.

Thousands more youngsters would be inspired beyond belief and experience a potentially life changing event were they to attend; seeing the stars they watch on television right before their very eyes.

However, many with such passion for Barcelona FC will be unable to access or afford tickets, with the majority sold to middle class ‘Event-goers’ who will be able to add yet another notch to their belts.

Putting football support and emotion of Barcelona fans to one side, what does such an event actually do for the Australian game?

Aside from a passionate group of Euro-snobs waxing lyrical about a brand valued at just less than $5 billion and the pockets of the corporates getting well lined as a result of the visit, what possible benefit could a one-off match between Barcelona FC and an A-League All-Stars team actually produce.

Pedro Gonzalez

(Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Plenty of merchandise, advertising space, tickets, buckets of chips and an array of beverages will be sold, with the broadcaster, stadium and contracted caterers all standing to have a big night with a tidy profit appearing on the balance sheet come the end of it.

No doubt plenty of flesh will be pressed in the private suites and boxes and let’s hope all those corporate entities do manage to secure those deals that could well be sealed on the back of an invite to such an ‘event’.

Heaven knows, those struggling corporates certainly do need it, as the average fan forks out a tidy sum to watch Barcelona do its business.

In the past, the price of additional tickets available to members of the stadium has been excessive. If memory serves me correctly, the price of a single adult seat for my guest during the last talked up visit of a major European team was $219.

In my view, that is far from value for money; potentially proven with hard evidence gathered during similar cheesy matches of the past, with many fans seemingly more interested in the challenge of folding and then successfully launching a paper plane that soars through the air and finds its way onto the playing surface.

On more than one occasion during similar matches in Sydney’s biggest stadium, second halves offering little interest to the football fly-by-nights have seen paper plane activities occupy their minds far more successfully.

The sight of young kids and more alarmingly, adults, completely engrossed in a solid half-hour of aeronautical entertainment asks the question as to why they were there in the first place and how much money they actually have to waste.

The thought of a young kid watching on television in a less than salubrious suburb of Sydney always comes to mind, knowing that he or she would have engaged with the contest wholly and never, ever taking the opportunity for granted.

Yet, should the plans all come to fruition and the mighty Barcelona FC visit our shores in a few months’ time, an ‘event’ it will be.

Some folks will make a bucket of money, the majority of attendees will be thoroughly ripped off to the tune of anywhere between $100 and $300 and the chasm between the domestic game and the overseas elite will only become clearer in the minds of many.

I’m not sure Australia really needs these football exercises that do little more than line pockets and fuel snobbery. Perhaps the game could be promoted and supported in a manner that actually benefits the domestic scene.

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