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IN THE lead up to the AFL Grand Final this weekend, Roy Morgan Research conducted a study which looked into the drinking habits of AFL supporters. As the Swans and Hawks prepare to battle it out for the 2014 premiership, footy fans across the nation will be planning their Grand Final celebrations.

But Roy Morgan Research posed the question on every beverage producer’s lips – what do AFL supporters like to drink? Considering 14 of the 18 AFL teams are sponsored by an alcohol brand or retailer, it seemed an apt time to take a look at the booze preferences of AFL fanatics and where wine sits among beer, spirits, cider and liqueur.

In the year to June 2014, supporters of most AFL teams were more likely than the average Australian adult to have drunk alcohol in an average four weeks.

Research found the AFL’s most avid rum and beer drinkers are supporters of the Brisbane Lions, who are one-and-a-half times more likely than the average Aussie to drink rum in four weeks and are 29 per cent more likely to drink premium/importer beer. They are also 46 per cent more likely to drink non-premium/imported beer in the same period. Incidentally, the Lions are sponsored by beer brand Carlton Draught.

Sydney Swans fans are also more likely to drink beer in an average four weeks, and of all the teams’ supporters, are most likely to drink liqueur. While the team isn’t sponsored by a beer or liqueur brand, the Swans do count liquor retailer Cellarbrations among its sponsors.

Hawthorn supporters have been noted as 55 per cent more likely than the average Australian (and other teams’ fans) to drink premium beer in an average of four weeks; and while cider may be experiencing a boom among Australian drinkers, supporters of most AFL teams come in below the average for this beverage. But according to research, Adelaide Crows fans stand out for being 57 per cent more likely to drink cider in a four-week period than the average Australian. Interestingly, three of the Crows’ corporate partners are alcohol brands – more than any other team – but none of them produce cider.

AFL supporters' drinking habits revealed. Source: Roy Morgan Research.

AFL supporters’ drinking habits revealed. Source: Roy Morgan Research.

So who’s drinking all the wine, one would ask?

Roy Morgan Research found Melbourne Demons supporters lead the league and are 76 per cent more likely than the average Australian to drink red wine, 56 per cent more likely to drink white wine and 92 per cent more likely to drink champagne/sparkling wine. And the teams’ sponsor – Tyrrell’s Wines – may have something to do with this.

When Grapegrower & Winemaker caught up with Bruce Tyrrell, Tyrrell’s Wines general manager, he was thrilled to hear that Melbourne Demons supporters were also supporting the wine industry.

“We’ve been a long term supporter of the Melbourne Demons,” Tyrrell says. “It’s been eight to 10 years and it’s great to see Melbourne supporters are drinking more wine than any other teams’ supporters.”

The Tyrrell family has strong ties with Australian football which spans centuries. Tyrrell’s great uncle Fred was married to Ivy Spencer Wills – the niece of Australian Rules Football founder Tom Wills. And coincidently the Melbourne Football Club (or ‘The Dees’) is the same age as Tyrrell’s Wines.

While Tyrrell won’t be joining his son and thousands of footy fans at the MCG this weekend, he’s planned to have the game playing on TV screens in the cellar door all afternoon. “We’re all sports fanatics,” Tyrrell says. “We spend a lot of marketing dollars around sport and it just goes to show it works.”

Although Tyrrell was pleased to hear Melbourne Demons supporters were more likely to drink wine than any other teams’ supporters, he couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that South Australians – who live in the nation’s biggest wine producing state – are more likely to drink cider.

The AFL Grand Final is one of the key events on the Australian sporting calendar and is a large social occasion for many football fans who get together with friends and family to watch the match over a few drinks.

“As our data reveals, some teams’ supporters are more likely to drink certain types of beverage than other teams’ supporters and occasionally their alcohol preferences even coincide with their team’s sponsors,” Angela Smith, Roy Morgan Research group account director says. “For example, Roy Morgan data shows Tyrell’s Wine is an ideal sponsor for Melbourne Demons, whose fans are more likely than any others to drink wine in an average four weeks.

“In fact, of all AFL supporters, Demons fans are the most likely to have drunk any alcohol in an average four-week period, along with St Kilda Saints fans, yet the Saints don’t have any alcohol sponsors. Could this be an opportunity for a canny booze brand in the market for an AFL team to partner with?”

For the original release visit http://www.roymorgan.com.au/findings/5823-drinking-habits-afl-supporters-201409222254