Just today, AFANA received yet more messages from Australian football fans which went like this:
"I haven't joined because I don't get Setanta on my cable system." Which is not much more encouraging than the one that came in earlier: "I just learned about the Internet connection to Setanta [ITVN] so I will be joining soon."
So what would I like both of these prospective members to understand?
Simply put: AFANA exists to get you more footy and get better footy. We can't do that if you are only with us when things are "perfect" for you. If the founders of AFANA and our early charter members had felt that way, we wouldn't exist. In fact, we never would have gotten past the proposal stage.
Think about it. We have been in a transition year. The networks have changed and the coverage is different. Through no fault of AFANA (or the AFL) we lost the major network covering Aussie rules after last season. So how did we end up with any coverage at all this season? How did we get the previous network? What will do if Setanta chooses not to continue?
The answer to all those questions is, at least in part, AFANA. Our founding was based on the belief that to avoid the crisis in coverage that occurred after the 1995 season from ever happening again the fans must be organized. Fans must use their collective voices through AFANA to let networks know we are out there. Work with the AFL to insure that every possible outlet is examined and contacted. Yes, the AFL must do the negotiating or at least do it through their marketing partner. But we, the fans, have to be vocal if we want a say in what happens. Without the fans, there is no TV coverage. Period.
AFANA was instrumental in doing behind the scenes work that helped bring footy onto the then new Fox Sports World in 1998. We helped keep it on the air there through a series of repeated crises over the years. Year after year FSWLD threatened to drop the sport. Fans and AFANA kept it alive. Finally, events overtook us and we lost the coverage. So why was Setanta on the radar of the AFL? In part, because of AFANA. We discussed Setanta with the AFL weeks after it was announced as a new venture. Long before the AFL had a reason to talk with them. Why was MHz a player? In part, because year after year we have worked with MHz and the AFL to keep footy on their channels. And what happens if the worst takes place, and again we have no network for 2007? AFANA is already working to be sure fans get footy in 2007.
If you, the fan, are a member of AFANA only when you get exactly the coverage you want on your TV at the times you want and on the channels you prefer, we will cease to exist. At some point in the past 11 years, every member of AFANA's leadership has lost their own footy coverage. But they stayed with us because they understood what we are trying to do and knew we would work to get it back. If you are a footy fan, we need your support through "thick and thin". When times are good and times are not so good. So if you aren't a member, become one now. Join AFANA.
Our slogan in the very first year was "we'll get our footy in 1996!". The years have changed but the message hasn't: "we'll get our footy in 2006 and 2007 and beyond"! But only if you support us.