EXCLUSIVE: Archie Fraser can barely contain his enthusiasm for the new A-League season and he confidently predicts key indicators will rise in season five.
Fraser, an off-season recruit from AFL high flyers St Kilda, said the A-League was set for growth in the key areas of TV ratings, sponsors and crowds.
Speaking at the launch of the new season in Sydney on Monday, the recently appointed A-League boss said growth in the game was fuelling high expectations for the new league.
"The key thing is people watching the games both live and on TV. And yes, we'll get an increase [this season]," he told au.fourfourtwo.com.
"Suncorp on Saturday will be a bumper crowd and clearly North Queensland and Sydney will be a terrific game in both crowds and TV. And Melbourne v Central Coast will be 25,000 plus on Thursday night.
"There's no question the average crowds will increase this season just with the quality of the players that have come back and I think the venues we play at are excellent. And the draw.
"The combination of that adds to guarantees we'll have increases in crowds."
Last season, A-League crowds dipped alarmingly after three seasons of steady growth. From a season three average regular season crowd of 14,612, season four slumped to an average of 12,180 - around 800 smaller than season two's average.
Getting back up to the 14,000 plus average and perhaps even nudging 15,000 will be the goal this season for Fraser and his team. With the new teams and a genuine feeling of excitement around the league - not to mention the Socceroos in a World Cup year - the crowds should return.
Fraser, however, was more circumspect when talking about the Gold Coast United's stated wish not to promote its inaugural game on Saturday against rivals Brisbane Roar at Suncorp stadium.
United owner Clive Palmer and coach Miron Bleiberg have been vocal in their opposition to promoting a game they believe should've been scheduled for their home ground.
Fraser says the public spat has achieved the opposite effect.
"I think they have promoted it," Fraser said with a smile. "And we know Gold Coast fans will turn up. It's their first ever game.
"Clearly the whole football population of south-east Queensland will go and watch just to see the quality of what Clive Palmer and Miron have put together.
"And clearly, the Roar supporters will turn out in their droves for a local derby."
But Fraser described the surface situation at Suncorp as "difficult". There is an NRL game on the ground 24 hours earlier and there are concerns this showpiece game could be ruined by a cut-up surface.
"The stadium owners have said to us they'll make special efforts to get the quality ... because the presentation of the game is important to them as well," said Fraser.
"It's their stadium and they want it to look good too. There are no guarantees but I'd think it'd be all right on the weekend."
In other news out of Monday's launch of season five, it's believed a decision will be made on A-League franchise number 12 at an FFA board meeting by month's end.
A month later than originally expected, the decision is thought to confirm the 12th franchise holder or, at the very least, award an exclusive negotiation agreement with that group.
There are regional bidders with Canberra expected to provide stiff opposition for a spot expected to be taken up by one of the three west Sydney bids.
The FFA has already awarded the 11th spot to a second Melbourne franchise headed by businessman Peter Sidwell.
The club, which has the current working title of Melbourne Heart , will kick off in season six and will play at Melbourne's new rectangular stadium at Olympic Park.