January 10, 2024 / News Fan frenzy: Venues prepare for huge year of soccer
As a passionate Liverpool fan, Vanessa McGuire knows how to create the perfect atmosphere for patrons, especially when it comes to watching the round ball game.
“This is their church,” explained the Operations Manager, seated in her brightly lit back corner office at Cheers Bar in Sydney.
“This is where they come to sing, this is where they come to pray.”
McGuire and her team have expertly turned Cheers Bar into one of Sydney’s iconic live sports venues, known by many for its two-storey amphitheatre, large expat crowd and global football offer.
Cheers Bar is already planning for a massive year in 2024, with soccer as the headline.
In fact the next 12 months don’t come any bigger for the sport, according to Sportsyear Co-Founder Daniel Giorelando, who’s just put the finishing touches on the annual Sportsyear Report.
“2024 is arguably the biggest year yet for world football,”
Giorelando, who oversees the compilation and curation of data in the Sportsyear Engine, says the quantity and quality of soccer on offer in the next 12 months is unprecedented.
“And there is simply no break in the calendar.” He added.
Starting with the AFC Asian Cup in January and highlighted by the Paris Games in July, in which Australia’s Matildas should go for Gold, there’s quite the line up of key soccer events in 2024.
2024: A BUMPER YEAR FOR SOCCER
AFC Asian Cup (Jan 12 – Feb 11)
Will be held in Qatar, where the Socceroos are considered title contenders. Australia faces India, Syria and Uzbekistan in the group stage - with all three matches starting at 10.30pm AEDT.
• Broadcaster: Network 10 and Paramount+
A-League Men's Final (May 25)
The decider is slated for a Saturday evening in late May, which coincides with domestic NRL, AFL and Rugby seasons, expect a busy night with all major codes in action on the same day.
• Broadcaster: Network 10
FA Cup Final (May 26)
The 143rd FA Cup Final and Premier League clubs have dominated in recent years so you can expect a big club and even bigger supporters for this decider. This match will start after midnight AEDT.
• Broadcaster: Paramount +
UEFA Champions League Final (Jun 2)
Fans will brave the 5am Sunday morning kick-off time to witness the biggest single match of the season as the best club side in Europe is decided.
• Broadcaster: Stan Sport and 9GEM
UEFA Euro 2024 (Jun 15 – Jul 15)
The biggest men's football tournament outside the World Cup. Twenty-Four nations will battle it out to be crowned the European Champion. Kick-Off times range from 11pm to 5am AEST.
• Broadcaster: Optus Sport
Copa America (Jun 21 – Jul 15)
The pinnacle of South American football. World Champions Argentina, Brazil and 14 other teams will compete. This tournament will be staged in the USA, making kick-off times in morning trade.
• Broadcaster: Optus Sport
Paris 2024 Football T’ment (July 24 – Aug 10)
Australia’s favourite team The Matildas could be on target to win Gold, which has been earmarked as a goal since the team’s incredible efforts in the 2023 Women's World Cup.
• Broadcaster: 9Network
GETTING THE BASICS RIGHT
McGuire’s strategy when it comes to screening big soccer events in her venue is to know your audience – and create an atmosphere whereby fans can feel at home.
She will decorate the entire venue with flags, balloons, while even playing the iconic Liverpool song ‘You’ll never walk alone’ to really get the crowd pumped before kick-off.
The impact is clear to see.
Fans often flock to Cheers Bar to watch games as early as 2am and 5am, with the venue often reaching capacity an hour out from kick off.
BOOKINGS AN UNTAPPED OPPORTUNITY
While many operators describe live sport bookings as hit and miss, Sportsyear data in 2023 showed significant demand from fans when it comes to securing a spot to watch big events.
Booking clicks leading up to the Matildas’ World Cup semi final were unprecedented.
“The data shows fans are looking for a better experience when it comes to watching live sport in venues and part of that experience includes the planning experience,” said Giorelando.
“It is one reason why we support a variety of booking integrations at Sportsyear.”
A spokesperson from online booking platform ResDiary validated this trend.
“There’s been a 36% surge in social media and website bookings since 2021 to August 2023,”
Planning remains a key part of staying ahead of the game when it comes to football, with kick off times in Europe and at World Cups often breaching usual open times.
Giorelando says Sportsyear is built for this type of venue, serious about delivering a great live sport experience.
“We produce World Cup Planners every year, designed to help venue teams stay across exactly what they need to when it comes to rosters, open hours and identifying the key events to push,"