August 1, 2014
SPORTS REPORTER AT THE CANBERRA TIMES
Canberra was initially scheduled to host Japan’s likely Asian Cup quarter-final before it was moved to Sydney to satisfy international broadcasters.
The defending title holders were on track to feature at Canberra Stadium on Friday, January 23 at 5.30pm when the draw for the Asian Cup took place on March 26 this year.
However, the AFC and the World Sports Group switched the fixture within an hour of the announcement to accommodate the lucrative television audience in Japan.
An option of having the 5.30pm game in Sydney was also considered unfeasable because of the possibility of low crowds from peak-hour traffic at ANZ Stadium.
The ACT Government has contributed $4.3 million to host seven games, including a quarter-final, of the Asian Cup from January 10-23 next year.
Instead of the likely Japan v UAE quarter-final at Canberra Stadium, based on the current FIFA rankings that game is now expected to be Iran against Jordan.
The quarter-final involving Japan at ANZ Stadium will kick-off at 8.30pm to allow the game to be broadcast live into Japan at 7.30pm.
Asian Cup chief executive Michael Brown said the decision was made for logical business reasons as the AFC and the World Sports Group had the ultimate say on fixturing.
”I’m the biggest supporter of Canberra and want games to be successful down there, but at some point decisions were going to be made if things didn’t go the way we wanted them to,” Brown said.
”But there’s no guarantees – if Japan are second in their group they go to Canberra.
“What you try and do is bring the draw together that the broadcasters want, and then we argue like hell for what the public wants.
”It’s no different to the AFL or cricket or other sports that the power of media timings is very strong (because) they pay the bills.
“We’re assured Canberra is a more local market than Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane because of its regional nature.
”You’d love to play every game at 7.30 at night, but in a competition where you’ve got to fit everyone in a short time frame that can’t possibly happen.”
Brown will meet with ACT Deputy Minister Andrew Barr next week and will also work with Canberra tourism on ways to promote the tournament.
“The ACT Government is proud to be involved in the Asian Cup, the benefits include economic, investment and future tourism opportunities,” Barr said.
”It is normal practice for the AFC to consider the implications of the match schedule and its impact on the international broadcast schedule, and to make adjustments to maximise the viewership and spectator attendances at the tournament.
”The ACT Government were aware when agreeing to host six matches and a quarter-final in Canberra that there was potential for the final draw match schedule to be changed.”
Brown said more than 130,000 tickets had been sold for games across Australia, but admitted lower-than-expected sales at this point for the games in Canberra.
He expected an increase in interest from October.
ASIAN CUP GAMES IN CANBERRA (FIFA rankings in brackets)
- Saturday, January 10: South Korea (56) v Oman (69), 4pm.
- Sunday, January 11: UAE (65) v Qatar (86), 6pm.
- Tuesday, January 13: Kuwait (107) v South Korea (56), 6pm.
- Thursday, January 15: Bahrain (105) v UAE (65), 6pm.
- Sunday, January 18: China (94) v North Korea (147), 8pm.
- Tuesday, January 20: Iraq (89) v Palestine (85), 8pm.
- Friday, January 23: Quarter-final: Winner C v Runners-up D, 5.30pm.