Mateship before Meatloaf

That's the way to get the kids to the footy, David Bednall tells Herald Sun.

Filling up the MCG with Gen Yers is a challenge for football officials.
Filling up the MCG with Gen Yers is a challenge for football officials.

Mateship rather than Meat Loaf will attract yonng people to AFL games, the Herald Sun's Susie O'Brian is reporting.

Associate Professor David Bednall, a marketing expert from Deakin University has urged the AFL to stop spending money on big name pre-match and halftime entertainers and use friendship instead to recruit new members.

A survey of 909 hip twentysomethings by Associate Professor Bednall shows even the lure of popular reality-TV stars performing at halftime would not be enoughgh to draw Gen Yers to the footy, Susie O'Brien continues in her article featured in both the newspaper and on the Herald-Sun's website.

But they might go along to a match as part of a social event with friends involving before and after activities, such as drinking at a pub.

The research, partly funded by the AFL, looks at ways to attract new fans to game. Dr Bednall found the best way to get new bums on seats was to build on the social networks of existing fans rather than spend hundreds of thousands on entertainment or convert fans from other codes.

"Some clubs are slipping behind and funds are dropping off, so they need to look at other things to do to attract people," he said in the latest Sport Management Review journal.

"It makes sense to get friends to bring a friend as part of a night out, which is what more and more young people want from footy, especially if they are not that into the game.

"Individual clubs and sports leagues would be unwise to use their scarce resources on expensive extra entertainment like a top-100 celebrity or other enhancements at normal matches."

Dr Bednall found the halftime Auskick games by 5-12-year-olds were not a drawcard for Gen Yers.

"Any form of extra entertainment could be assumed to be more attractive than the Auskick competitions," he said.

It comes as the AFL local musicians would be part of pre-match entertainment at the MCG and Etihad Stadium for Saturday night games.

AFL general manager of strategy and marketing Andrew Catterall said music was "an awesome connector of the younger generation".

"For many young people, footy is part of a social night out or a day out, and we find the best recruiters for us are existing fans," he said.

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