FootballNews V3

Welcome to the third iteration of FootballNews. The focus of this revision has been on updating the underlying systems and simplifying FootballNews.

FootballNews (aka Soccernews) started 22 years ago in 1998. It started out as a project to develop an .asp toolkit of functions to support database driven websites. The .asp tools were developed and SoccerNews, as it was then named, was created to test them.

There was no fanfare about the launch of SoccerNews. After all its purpose was to test the .asp toolkit and at the same time do a little promotion of the local game. It went online quietly. But word of mouth spread quickly and the test site quickly became very quite popular.

While we continued to enhance the .asp toolkit, the popularity of the site grew and grew. We were surprised by its popularity. Before long we had dropped our focus on testing our .asp toolkit – and were now focused on improving the functionality of SoccerNews to promote the local game.

At the time of its development SoccerNews was utilising leading edge technology and techniques. The back-end was was quite sophisticated though the front end of the site was quite basic. One problem area was the performance of the site – there was an irritating performance problem that would inexplicably crop up every few months grinding the site to a halt. Over several years we spent months trawling over all the code underlying the site in search of the cause of the performance problem. We incorrectly believed there had to be a fault in the programming. Then we discovered others who were having similar problems. Soon it became obvious that the cause of the problem was a bug in the Microsoft IIS webserver software – a bug Microsoft had known about for several years but had not fixed. We immediately decided it was time to move to a more robust and open software platform.

In 2003 we started working on FootballNews v2 and it was launched in early 2006. At that time. social media was in its infancy and Australian football was on the verge of its subsequent rise into the mainstream of Australian sport through the heroic performances of the Socceroos at the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany. Like v1 when it was launched 8 years earlier, FootballNews v2 was state of the art technology in 2006 with many new features and functions. FootballNews v2 had been developed by a hard working development team and it represented a significant investment of time and capital. Its launch was met with a very strong reception and rapidly became one of the top 3 football websites in Australia – regularly jostling for the no1 position in Australia.

However FootballNews was also becoming a victim of its own popularity. All of this functionality required a significant workload to administer and keep up to date and this was difficult to maintain for a not-for profit site. Employed staff were being kept busy maintaining the website along with many volunteers. Concurrently FootballNews faced several legal threats from a large multinational media organisation and these threats brought FootballNews to the edge of closing before they eventually relented. But these events certainly took their tool on FootballNews and it was a turning point. All the effort and costs in running a non-for-profit site, combined with the personal risk of ending up in a court room fighting a very aggressive multinational was starting to take over over lives. It was time to refocus FootballNews.

Over time the games administrators its clubs and lifted their game and improved their own websites and it was no longer necessary to publish the resource intensive information such as fixtures, results, best players and league tables. News on local football became more readily available and so the news functionality was no longer required. The advent of video streaming services opened up access to international football content. Social media platforms changed the way people receive information. The Australian media had lost its ability to throttle what sport Australians consume.

With these changes, there was no longer a need for FootballNews to operate as news, results, match reporting and information source. FootballNews stepped back from these resource intensive activities. This left a lot of redundant functionality on the site which has been removed for FootballNews v3.

FootballNews is not alone in this journey. Many of us have been with FootballNews for a long time and have gone through our own individual journeys.

It has been a very interesting ride over the past 22 years and we hope you continue to enjoy using FootballNews.

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