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Apathy builds for start of NSL season

[Edition 77] SYDNEY, Saturday: Interest in the recently-begun National Soccer League season is “lukewarm and cooling”. That was the optimistic message today from Soccer Australia chairman Frank Lowy. With a self-imposed media blackout and the imminent threat of administrative collapse, Lowy was confident 2004 could even exceed the extraordinarily high levels of apathy of previous years.

[Edition 77] SYDNEY, Saturday: Interest in the recently-begun National Soccer League season is “lukewarm and cooling”. That was the optimistic message today from Soccer Australia chairman Frank Lowy. With a self-imposed media blackout and the imminent threat of administrative collapse, Lowy was confident 2004 could even exceed the extraordinarily high levels of apathy of previous years.

“It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that apathy will build if you just do nothing” said Lowy. “But after the World Cup and the success of Harry Kewell, there was a real danger that interest in soccer might grow this country, despite all our lack of effort. It’s our job to make sure the threat never becomes a reality.”

According to Lowy, success in damaging the profile of the sport can largely be attributed to the fixture. “It’s been specifically designed to deter spectators,” Lowy explained. “Twenty-six painful rounds of mediocrity will see even the most ardent NSL fans switch their attention to foreign leagues. Failing that, there are still ten laborious weeks of finals.”

“The ten-week finals system worked particularly well for us last year because nobody understood the format,” said Lowy. “Most fans gave up after the second week and the clubs weren’t far behind.”

Unveiling the NSL’s new slogan, “How good’s the English Premier League?”, Lowy steadfastly maintained that apathy would continue to grow, despite the appointment of high profile businessmen Ron Walker and John Singleton to the Soccer Australia board.

“It’s been hard at times,” he admitted. “But we’ve been working our butts off trying to stay out of the news. Since those guys came on board, we haven’t held one board meeting or press conference and most days we don’t even turn up to the office. Now that’s commitment.”

Lowy lashed out at some sections of the media for conspiring to promote the forthcoming season. “SBS was poking around our stadiums with cameras but thankfully that stopped after we signed an ironclad agreement with Channel Seven which absolutely guaranteed no coverage at all.”

“We also found a couple of community newspapers were printing fixtures for the season, but we threatened legal action and not one single fixture has been printed since.”

“Our record speaks for itself. Membership is down, sponsorship is non-existent and club interest is at an all time low,” said Lowy “Most clubs have even sent reminder letters to the players, to make sure they turn up to the first game. It’s still early days but I think we may finally be realising the vision our founding fathers had when they moved the NSL season to summer. Now, promise me you won’t give this announcement any coverage and undo all our good work.”