I’ll speak only for myself when I say that I love the new concept of the pre-season competition. I’m not sure what the wider perception is but 18 games over 18 days is great for footy fans who have spent a long summer waiting for the greatest game to return.

What I don’t like is seeing games played at established stadiums with near non-existent crowds. Unless you’re a member of the AFL you’re forced to pay $25 a head ($18 + $7 handling fee) to watch your side play a practice match.

As a club member myself I find myself spending close to $1000 a year on memberships which guarantee me access to every game my club plays in Victoria and priority access to finals tickets. What it doesn’t include is access to NAB Challenge games that struggle to draw crowds of 10,000 people at a stadium that holds 50,000 people.

I can’t even get cheaper tickets, the only thing my membership entitles me to is a members only pre-sale for a game that won’t get remotely close to selling out.

I also think it can be improved at games held at regional venues. Long distance club members should be able to receive free tickets to a match if it’s played locally, after-all long distance members are often the most loyal.

In recent years the NRL have started to heavily promote club memberships as they realise it’s the way forward for getting fans to attend games. I’m not sure how many people would sign up as an AFL member due to the fact they get free access to NAB Challenge matches but I can’t imagine that would be a deciding factor for many.

It’s time the AFL opened the gates for all club members, let them spend money on a pie and coke and maybe a new guernsey at the club stand on the way into the ground.

Crowds at established stadiums

Geelong vs Collingwood – 12,140 at Simonds Stadium
Hawthorn vs Brisbane – AFL did not provide a crowd figure for Etihad Stadium.
Richmond vs Melbourne – 12,024 at Etihad Stadium
Gold Coast vs Essendon- 6083 at Metricon Stadium
Western Bulldogs vs St Kilda – 2894 at Simonds Stadium
Hawthorn vs North Melbourne – 4000 at Aurora Stadium

Can't believe club memberships don't include #NABChallenge games. With bugger all people attending anyway, get them in to buy a beer & pie.

— Adam 'Warnie' Child (@WarnieDT) February 23, 2014