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Sydney FC call for big A-League SF crowd

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/04/2017 Emma Kemp

Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata has called on fans to come out in in force for Saturday's A-League semi-final against Perth, after Melbourne City pulled a paltry crowd to their elimination clash.

Pignata was one of only 9,944 people who turned up at AAMI Park to watch City go down 2-0 to the Glory on Sunday night - which fell well short of Football Federation Australia's anticipated figure of 15,000.

The crowd was marginally less than last season's identical fixture, when City's 2-0 win over Perth was attended by 11,273 fans at the more family-friendly kick-off time of 5pm, albeit without the star attraction of Tim Cahill.

Pignata hoped for a much bigger turnout at Allianz Stadium, with the Sky Blues hosting Perth for a spot in the grand final.

"For our final a couple of years ago against Adelaide we got high 20s, so I'm expecting a crowd like that," Pignata told AAP.

"We really want them to become our 12th man this week."

Sydney drew a crowd of 26,783 to their last home final, a 4-1 semi-final triumph over the Reds in 2014-15.

Yet the club averaged 16,001 at Allianz this home-and-away season, essentially the same as last campaign (16,071) despite the premiers' record-breaking success.

As per usual, the 45,500-capacity venue was packed to the rafters for January's Sydney derby.

The next-highest attendance was 19,143 for a high-profile round-five Saturday night meeting with Melbourne Victory, while a second home Big Blue in round 22 pulled only 13,310 paying customers on a Friday night.

Additionally, February's Thursday night win over Wellington - Sydney's 19th-straight undefeated match - attracted the smallest home crowd in five seasons (8,380) and had coach Graham Arnold begging fans for more support at the turnstiles.

Pignata felt the figures were partly a symptom of an increase in those less favourable Friday night slots - double the number of last season, despite one less home game.

"We haven't been helped by our scheduling (with) a lot of Friday night games and Friday night doesn't work in Sydney," he said.

"That's basically on the back of a poor season last year.

"Hopefully next season we'll be able to get more Saturday night games, which work well for us."

The other prominent factor is a wider Australian sporting landscape skewed towards maximising TV figures.

That was evidenced by FFA's decision to schedule Sunday's City-Perth elimination final in the later slot of 7pm to please broadcaster Fox Sports.

The result was a 23 per cent increase on last season in overall TV figures (Fox Sports and SBS Viceland) for week one of the finals.

But crowds were down 12.6 per cent, even considering the more respectable figure of 17,530 at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night for Brisbane's penalty shootout elimination-final triumph over Western Sydney.

"We always want more fans but I think it's just the nature of sport at the moment," Pignata said.

"Even in rugby - the Waratahs on the weekend I think got less than 10,000.

"If you look at that landscape our crowds are quite strong.

"A lot of people now prefer to sit at home and watch on TV, which is great for the broadcasters."

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