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Essendon tops in Victoria, but... Sydney Swans Australia's Most Popular Footy Club.

Published in The Bulletin, cover date June 12, 2001 The Age & Herald Sun, cover date June 6

Essendon and Collingwood fans continue to argue about which of the two clubs has the most supporters in the AFL, but the truth is it is neither, according to the Roy Morgan AFL Football Monitor.

Despite indifferent form on the field over the last 12 months, the Sydney Football Club remains Australia's most popular AFL football club among fans, with 8.5% (down 1.5% since March 2000) of all Australians aged 14 and over (representing an estimated 1,289,000 people) saying they support the Swans.

Essendon was the second most heavily supported club (5%, representing an estimated 789,000 Australians) and the only club to experience an increase in support (up 0.5%) over the past 12 months. The West Coast Eagles followed with 4.5% (representing 727,000 people - down 1%) with the Adelaide Crows (4.5%, representing 670,000 Australians - down 0.5%) fourth most popular.

Once regarded as the most powerful club in the nation, Collingwood is now the fifth most popular AFL club with an estimated 642,000 supporters (4%, down 0.5%), followed by the Brisbane Lions (4%, representing 637,000 Australians - down 1.5%). Carlton and Richmond were next with 4% and 2.5% (representing 608,000 and 387,000 supporters) respectively.

At the opposite end of the spectrum the Port Adelaide (1.5%, unchanged) and Western Bulldogs (1.5%, unchanged) were the least popular clubs in the AFL with an estimated 219,000 supporters and 222,000 supporters respectively. Melbourne (1.5%, unchanged) and Fremantle (1.5%, down 0.5%) were also among the least supported clubs with an estimated 226,000 supporters and 245,000 supporters respectively.

In the AFL's heartland of Victoria, the Bombers have stolen a march on the Magpies as the State's most popular club. The proportion of Victorians who support Essendon is 12.5% (up 0.5%) compared with 11.5% (down 0.5%) for Collingwood. Carlton (8.5%), Geelong (7%), Richmond (6.5%) and Hawthorn (5%) were next most popular among Victorian respondents.

In South Australia, the Adelaide Crows (supported by 46% of South Australians) have nearly three times the support of AFL newcomers Port Adelaide (supported by 15.5% of South Australians), while in Western Australia the West Coast Eagles (supported by 40% of Western Australians) are far more popular than home town rivals Fremantle (supported by 14.5% of Western Australians).

Overall, just under half of all respondents aged 14+ (49%, down 5%) support at least one AFL club with 2% nominating two or more AFL clubs.

Not surprisingly a higher proportion of those who support an AFL club are men (56%) than women (44%).

The Sydney Swans had the highest proportion of male supporters (men - 61% cf women - 39%), followed by Richmond, Hawthorn and Melbourne (men - 60% cf women - 40%).

The Fremantle Dockers on the other hand had more female supporters than male (women - 55% cf men - 45%), while Adelaide supporters were split evenly between men (50%) and women (50%).

AFL club support is skewed towards the younger age groups, with respondents aged 14-24 most likely to support an AFL club (53%), followed by those aged 25-34 (51.5%) and those aged 35-49 (49.5%). Respondents aged 50 and over were the least likely to support an AFL club (45%).

Essendon's recent success has brought in an influx of teenage supporters as is illustrated by the large proportion of its support base that is aged under 25. Twenty eight percent of Essendon supporters are aged 14-24 compared to 19% of the total population. A relatively high proportion of Fremantle supporters (23%) are also aged 14-24.

Adelaide has the largest proportion of supporters aged 50 and over (40%) compared with the total population (35% are aged 50 and over), followed by the Western Bulldogs (37%). 

 

CLUB SUPPORTER MINI PROFILES


Adelaide Crows supporters are:

  • 16% more likely than the average person to be aged over 50;
  • 17% more likely than the average person to be in the bottom FG Socio-Economic Quintile;
  • among the most likely to be married (7% more likely than average);
  • more than twice as likely as the average person to vote for the Australian Democrats.

Brisbane Lions supporters are:

  • predominantly Queenslanders despite the club's Fitzroy heritage. 85% of Brisbane Lions support comes from Queensland while only 7% comes from Victoria;
  • 37% more likely than the average person to have only primary school education;
  • 20% more likely than average to be renting a house;
  • 11% more likely to say they try to buy Australian made products as often as possible.

Carlton Blues supporters are:

  • 30% more likely than the average person to be aged 25-34;
  • the most likely to have drunk beer in the last four weeks (27% more likely than the average person);
  • 41% more likely than average to have eaten KFC;
  • 43% more likely to have played a poker machine in the last 3 months.

Collingwood Magpies supporters are:

  • 27% more likely than the average person to be aged 25-34;
  • 60% more likely than average to have a maximum of Year 11 education;
  • 31% more likely to smoke cigarettes than the average person;
  • 12% more likely to say that "None of this stuff about the information super-highway makes any sense to me".

Essendon Bombers supporters are:

  • 46% more likely than the average person to be in the 14-24 age group;
  • 16% more likely than the average person to be single;
  • 8% more likely to have ever accessed the Internet;
  • 20% more likely to say they wear clothes that will get them noticed.

Fremantle Dockers supporters are:

  • 22% more likely than the average Australian to be in the highest socio-economic group (AB Quintile);
  • 57% more likely to have a semi-professional job;
  • 44% more likely than the average person to be intending to buy a new car within four years;
  • 29% more likely to have drunk wine in the last 4 weeks.

Geelong Cats supporters are:

  • 61% more likely than the average person to come from outside the capital cities. (53% are from Geelong)
  • 49% more likely than the average person to have a professional occupation;
  • 40% more likely than the average person to be considering or intending to buy a Ford within four years;
  • 26% more likely to say they find TV advertising interesting.

Hawthorn Hawks supporters are:

  • 40% more likely than the average person to be aged 25-34;
  • 33% more likely to vote for the Liberal Party;
  • 24% more likely than the average person to be intending to buy a car in the next four years;
  • 33% more likely to say they prefer beer to wine.

Kangaroos supporters are:

  • the most likely to have eaten at fast food place in the last four weeks (16% more likely than the average person).
  • nearly twice as likely (94% more likely) as the average person to have drunk bourbon in the last four weeks;
  • 43% more likely to have drunk scotch in the last four weeks;
  • 27% more likely than the average person to vote for the ALP.

Melbourne Demons supporters are:

  • 68% more likely than the average person to be earning $70,000 or more per annum;
  • 11% more likely than average to currently drive a 4-wheel-drive vehicle;
  • 21% more likely to own their home;
  • 69% more likely to read the business section of the newspaper.

Port Adelaide Power supporters are:

  • 41% more likely than the average person to be in the lowest (FG) socio-economic group;
  • 41% more likely to be earning less than $10,000 per year;
  • 29% more likely to smoke cigarettes than the average Australian;
  • 23% more likely to own a cat.

Richmond Tigers supporters are:

  • 46% more likely than the average person to in the 25-34 age bracket;
  • 26% more likely to be in the highest (AB) socio-economic group and 58% more likely to have a professional occupation;
  • 11% more likely to own a mobile phone;
  • 96% more likely to place a bet at the TAB than the average Australian.

St Kilda Saints supporters are:

  • 31% more likely to be aged 35-49 than the average person;
  • 18% more likely than the average person to have eaten at McDonalds in the last four weeks;
  • 22% more likely to say imported beer is a waste of money;
  • 22% more likely than the average person to say freedom is more important than the law.

Sydney Swans supporters are:

  • 23% more likely than average to be male;
  • 36% more likely than the average to have eaten at Pizza Hut in the last four weeks;
  • 22% more likely to say the Government is doing a good job running the country;
  • 15% more likely to say TV advertising often gives them something to talk about.

West Coast Eagles supporters are:

  • 28% more likely than the average person to be aged 14-24;
  • 69% more likely than the average person to have eaten at Hungry Jacks in the last four weeks;
  • 10% more likely to describe themselves as a "Mr Fix It" type of person;
  • 12% more likely than the average person to say they go out of their way to learn about new technology.

Western Bulldogs supporters are:

  • 27% more likely than the average person to be in the lowest (FG) socio-economic group;
  • 34% more likely than the average person to vote for the ALP;
  • 38% more likely to smoke cigarettes;
  • 19% more likely to say they were "born to shop".

These are the findings of a survey of approximately 24,508 Australians aged 14 and over conducted by Roy Morgan Research between April 2000 and March 2001. This is part of Roy Morgan Single Source - Australia's largest single source consumer database, comprising interviews with approximately 55,000 people annually. 

 

AFL Club Support Among Australians aged 14 and over*
  April 1999- April 2000- % Change Estimated
  March 2000 March 2001 Population
  % %    
         
Sydney (Swans) 10 8.5 -1.5 1,289,000
Essendon (Bombers) 4.5 5 +0.5 789,000
West Coast (Eagles) 5.5 4.5 -1 727,000
Adelaide (Crows) 5 4.5 -0.5 670,000
Collingwood (Magpies) 4.5 4 -0.5 642,000
Brisbane (Lions) 5.5 4 -1.5 637,000
Carlton (Blues) 4 4 - 608,000
Richmond (Tigers) 2.5 2.5 - 387,000
Geelong (Cats) 2.5 2.5 - 378,000
Hawthorn (Hawks) 2.5 2 -0.5 346,000
Kangaroos
(formerly North Melbourne)
2 2 - 277,000
St. Kilda (Saints) 2 1.5 -0.5 269,000
Fremantle (Dockers) 2 1.5 -0.5 245,000
Melbourne (Demons) 1.5 1.5 - 226,000
Western Bulldogs 1.5 1.5 - 222,000
Port Adelaide (Power) 1.5 1.5 - 219,000
         
Supports AFL Club 54 49 -5 7,591,000
None 46 51 +5 7,895,000
         
Total 100 100    
* Some people gave more than one answer