Jets fans are poised to turn out in force to support their team. Picture: AAP
Jets fans are poised to turn out in force to support their team. Picture: AAP

High-flying Jets crowding out Sky Blues

A YEAR ago they were stone-cold last - now the Newcastle Jets are poised to embarrass the A-League's heavy hitters with the biggest crowd of the finals.

Not only are the Newcastle Jets well on track to draw a bigger crowd than reigning champions Sydney FC this weekend, they also have their own attendance record in sight.

A huge pre-sale for Friday night's semi-final between the Jets and Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium means more than 18,000 tickets have already been sold, with over 5000 snapped up in a single day.

By contrast the figure for Saturday night's second semi-final between Sydney and Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium - a repeat of last year's grand final, and with the Sky Blues on track to repeat the double they won last year - is pointing to somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000, though Sydney officials are still hopeful of a late run on tickets to at least match last year's semi-final against Perth Glory, which drew a crowd of 21,938.

Continuing what has been an extraordinary season for Newcastle, they could come close to beating their highest attendance record of 24,338, set against Sydney in 2007. That would also give them the 10th highest ever finals crowd outside of grand finals.

Daniel Georgievski greets Jets fans. Picture: AAP
Daniel Georgievski greets Jets fans. Picture: AAP

While Football Federation Australia has taken charge of promoting the A-League finals series, Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna says the local community hasn't needed much convincing to jump on board.

It's been 10 years since the Jets last won the championship and, with NRL side the Newcastle Knights also struggling in recent years, this is an opportunity for the town to celebrate some success.

"Everyone has just jumped on board - all the local newspapers, radio stations, TV stations," McKinna said. "I know there is some paid advertising from FFA, but the support we're getting from all media outlets is fantastic.

Spectators will be thinner on the ground at FC v Victory. Picture: Getty Images
Spectators will be thinner on the ground at FC v Victory. Picture: Getty Images

"The fans are pushing it along too, so it's just great to see the Newcastle community coming together. It's been so long since we've been in the finals; 10 years ago they beat the Central Coast Mariners in the grand final.

"It's just been so long. Newcastle is a proud sports community - the Newcastle Knights have not been doing well, though they're doing a lot better this year as well - the town has been starved of success and this is a great opportunity, whether you're league fan or a football fan, to get behind a team."

While Novocastrians have indeed been starved of success, it's been the complete opposite for the A-League's reigning champions and premiership winners Sydney.

Jets hero Roy O'Donovan (centre). Picture: AAP
Jets hero Roy O'Donovan (centre). Picture: AAP

Sky Blues fans have grown accustomed to success, but while early ticket sales have been slow the club's CEO Danny Townsend is confident they will pick up in the days leading to the match.

"Traditionally we've always done the majority of our ticket sales in the last three days leading up to a game," he said. "We know our supporters will always turn out to big games and we're expecting another sizeable semi-final crowd."

The majority of ticket prices have been reduced from last year, with FFA hopeful of encouraging more families to come along.



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