Australia must look beyond marquee players for growth: Danny Townsend | Football News

Australian football is set for a cash injection following a minority stake sale to a U.S. private equity firm but the sport has to look beyond the signing of high-profile players for growth, said A-Leagues managing director Danny Townsend.
The Australian Professional League (APL), which operates the country’s top-flight men’s and women’s leagues, announced on Tuesday that Silver Lake would acquire a 33.3% equity share in the business that values the organisation at around A$425 million.
“It’s not just about marquees, it’s about the different stakeholder groups that love our game,” Townsend told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We are so connected to Asia, so how do we bring more Asian footballers of notoriety into our game?
“How do we look at other nationalities of huge migrant populations that live here in Australia and connect our sport to them knowing they are typically coming from football-first countries?
“It’s about the big names, it’s about the other nationalities and cultures.”
APL took over the running of the men’s and women’s leagues after they were “unbundled” from Football Australia in December last year.
It signed a five-year broadcast deal with ViacomCBS worth A$200 million ($142.24 million) in May and plans to add two teams to the men’s competition despite recent struggles to attract crowds, which Townsend attributed to the pandemic.
“All sports at the moment are struggling to drag people to games,” Townsend told News Corp.
“When you’ve been suppressed for so long through lockdown, people change behaviour. Our job now is to get them back to supporting their clubs and back into enjoying live sports again.”
The move to accept Silver Lake’s investment was praised by Anthony Di Pietro, chairman of four-time A-League champions Melbourne Victory.
“This is a generational event,” he said.
“It really gives the impetus to the game to continue to evolve and grow.”

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