Sydney Swans boss Andrew Pridham has been widely mocked in AFL circles after claiming his club has more fans than premiership powerhouse Collingwood.
The Magpies are widely regarded as Australia’s most successful football club across all codes, with membership and attendance figures to back it up, as well as performances on the field.
That hasn’t stopped Pridham choosing a statistic powered by a polling firm to make the extraordinary claim that the Swans have more fans than Collingwood and any other football team in the country.
“The Sydney Swans have two million fans, more than any other sporting club in Australia,” he said in an interview with Sam McClure on 3AW radio on Tuesday.
Pridham found a statistic that claims the Sydney Swans have two million followers, a figure he claims gives the team almost 700,000 more fans than Collingwood.
Further investigation shows that only five per cent of Swans fans are members, the lowest conversion rate in the AFL.
In contrast, Collinwood has more members than any football club in any code in Australia.
‘There’s no NRL club, there’s no AFL club with that many fans. We have more fans than Collingwood.
“Collingwood has 1.3 million fans and we have 2 million fans.”
McClure then asked Pridham, “How do you measure that?”
“There’s a (polling) organization called YouGov that does this annually for the AFL,” he responded.
“Collingwood at No. 2, Carlton at No. 10”.
YouGov is a legitimate organization that does a lot of high-profile work for the government and has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating on consumer review website Trustpilot, based on nearly 40,000 reviews.
However, their survey information does not tell the whole story.
In a study conducted by Roy Morgan in 2023, data showed that the Swans were the most followed AFL club with 1.34 million followers.
What that figure didn’t show is the fact that the Swans ranked last in the percentage of fans who are members at just 4.9 per cent.
The Swans’ final tally of 65,332 only puts them in 10th place overall in terms of AFL membership, but puts them comfortably in first place for sporting clubs in Sydney, ahead of NRL team the Parramatta Eels (35,015 members) and their city rivals, the GWS Giants (33,036). .
Collingwood had 106,470 members in 2023, a figure that will likely increase thanks to his premiership victory.
Fighters West Coast Eagles remained in second place with 103,275 members and Richmond took third place with 101,349 paid followers.
Needless to say, Pridham’s claim generated a lot of ridicule.
GWS led the backlash, sharing Pridham making the claim with a clip of comedian Zach Galifianakis letting out a derisive, breathless laugh in the 2010 film Dinner for Dummies.
AFL fans were quick to mock the Swans boss for selecting a statistic to show his club in a good light.
‘Ha ha. This is not accurate. “You can reference a data set that is incomplete if that makes me feel better,” one posted.
“They must be pretty inactive fans, since they can’t fill 70 percent of the ACG’s capacity every home game,” another noted.
“All polls are open to interpretation…it all depends on who you ask and what you ask…but kudos to Pridham for generating interest,” another added.
Pridham said the retirement of Lance Franklin (pictured) could boost shirt sales because most Swans fans had his iconic number 23 on their current shirt.
The Swans boss also believes the club will one day be able to attract 100,000 fans to each home game, comparing it to the numbers Taylor Swift gets at her concerts.
Pridham also compared the Swans to the NFL’s Super Bowl and said they could generate the same type of demand over time.
It’s not the only outlandish statement Pridham has made as the countdown to the 2024 AFL season continues.
He has also compared the Swans to Taylor Swift and the NFL Super Bowl and believes the club is getting close to getting 100,000 people at each home game.
Average attendance for the team’s home games in 2023 was 41,000, a 19 percent drop from 2022 attendance figures.
Pridham also made the extraordinary claim that the retirement of superstar Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin would actually boost fan investment in the club.
‘Buddy is a big superstar, as you know. I don’t think he’s had a big impact, it’ll probably boost merchandise sales since he’s retired,’ he stated.
‘The only reason I say that is that the 95 percent who had a number 23 on their back will have to buy a new jersey.
“So we might get a boost out of Buddy.”