UK & World News
Breaking The Rules: Footy Wins Favour In Oz
Football in Australia is suddenly undergoing a transformation with full stadiums and record TV ratings.
Three big international signings, Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero, former England player Emile Heskey and Japanese star Shinji Ono, have all joined Australian clubs prompting a massive surge in the game's popularity.
AFL - or Aussie rules football - and rugby league are the games most Australian sports fans follow but now "soccer" is heading towards the mainstream.
Del Piero's rumoured £2.5m contract for joining Sydney FC is the most expensive signing ever in Australian professional sport.
The club's chairman Scott Barlow said: "The signing of Alessandro Del Piero is a big moment for this club and, we believe, a historic moment for football in Australia."
While critics have poked fun at Emile Heskey back in the UK, when he joined the Newcastle Jets a few weeks ago, the club shop sold out of his replica shirt within hours.
The star quality of all three players is attracting old fans back to the game, and bringing new ones on board.
It is rare in Australia for football to ever sell out a ground, but when Sydney and Newcastle met at the start of the A-league season there was hardly a spare seat.
Both new signings scored with Newcastle winning 3-2.
After the game, Heskey told Sky News: "Everyone loves the Premier League and wherever you go you get Liverpool fans, Chelsea fans, and you go 'wow, ok so they do know football'.
"With me, Del Piero and Ono coming over, everyone is just falling in love with football again.
"It's a massive crowd today and they showed that they love to support their team."
Del Piero too believes the image of football in Australia is changing for the better.
The former Juventus player said: "I think everything has changed now, well not everything, but there is a different view of soccer now.
"But we have to work hard. It's not enough. We have to work to change a lot of things.
"There is a good sensation around me, and I'm happy about that... so this is an exciting challenge."
Australian Mark Bosnich has played for Manchester United, Aston Villa and Chelsea and is now a pundit in Sydney.
He believes it is not just the big signings making a difference, but other measures are also helping the game get noticed.
"I think a long time down the track it would be nice to think that we can compete with those other sports.
"The most important thing is that we actually play in the summer now so we're not in direct competition with AFL and NRL ... if anything we are more in competition with the cricket."
The Australian national squad - the Socceroos - have come in for criticism in recent times.
But an 84th-minute goal against Iraq has just breathed life into their flagging 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Football coaches like Stuart Cole, who runs a junior after-school competition in Sydney, says the national team can only benefit from the popularity boost.
He said: "These kids you see playing now and all over the country - they are the future of the sport."
From kids on the local pitch - to star players - there's a real sense that the perception of football in this sports-mad country is finally changing.