The A-League, Football in Australia and the CoronaVirus Crisis Thread

giggler99

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David Davutovic final article for the Herald-Sun hits the nail, change is a MUST!

Please FFA, take charge: Aussie soccer must be saved
David Davutovic, Herald Sun

The Socceroos and Matildas are among Australia’s most iconic sporting brands. Pandemic-proof.
But the coronavirus will change Australian football and Federal Government assistance — if not intervention — may be required again.
The National Soccer League and federation were on life support when I joined the media in 2002.

The most radical change in Australian football history ensued when Prime Minister John Howard intervened.

The Crawford Report lured Frank Lowy back into the game, giving birth to Football Federation Australia and the A-League.

But the code is under pressure again and a faltering A-League and W-League would have savage consequences for national teams, placing future World Cup qualification in jeopardy for the Socceroos, and killing off the Matildas’ dreams of becoming world champions.

The A-League is at its most fragile since starting in 2005, with Perth Glory, Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney standing down players and staff without pay. The W-League is at greater risk.

The A-League needs an independent board — a la the AFL Commission — capable of placing the game’s greater interests at the heart of decisions.

The owners are collectively scrambling, tip-toeing around a web that includes FFA (and vice-versa), self-interest, contractual obligations with Fox Sports and now COVID-19.

A civil war could erupt.

Yet FFA, A-League clubs, the players’ union — which played critical roles in 2002 with $700,000, 18-month research laying the foundations for the A-League — have the collective nous and solutions. If they cooperate.

This takes leadership, which must come from FFA.

Everything in the game must be reviewed, including the state federations’ role. It’s not so much a perfect chance to recalibrate, as a necessity.

It’s a perfect chance to reset if incumbents want out.

Tony Sage has tipped millions in over the journey, but if he can’t afford it, willing and able replacements should be sought. Perth Glory is not Sage’s hobby horse, but a proud club with 24 years history.

Serious consideration should be given to Central Coast’s future, including relegation to the NPL or relocation.

Beyond crisis management and belt-tightening, the game must not contract.

A reason the game is in a much worse position than the AFL and NRL is its failure to evolve.

The answer is to grow or die. Reopen the expansion process to everyone and increase to 16 teams (it’ll be 12 next season) as soon as possible.

But there must be far more modest financial obligations.

Australian football’s rich history must be acknowledged. State league and former NSL clubs must be given a chance to join the A-League, either directly or via a second division.

That shouldn’t rule out new franchises.

A second-tier and expansion appear way off at this stage, but the game will suffer if we don’t make a move on both issues.

Over 750,000 kids play football, making it Australia’s No.1 junior participation sport. They need pathways attached to dreams.

Football’s status quo would challenge the world’s best administrators. This is one almighty test for new FFA chief executive James Johnson.

Self-interest and a lack of leadership have plagued the game in recent years.

This period will be the defining moment for Johnson, chairman Chris Nikou and his FFA board.

This is my final column for the Herald Sun. Farewell, it has been my pleasure covering the world game for you.

 

Bomberboyokay

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Fair few teams have folded before.

this could be the nail in the coffin the the entire league
Some poster (can't remember who) thought this disruption was leading to a second division... If there's an A-League 2 after this, it'll be because the A-League has ceased being professional.
 

giggler99

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Western United join list of A-League clubs to stand down players

It’s understood CEO Chris Pehlivanis delivered the news to the squad via a telephone hook-up on Friday, as the competition newcomers joined the likes of Perth Glory, Western Sydney Wanderers, Central Coast, Brisbane Roar, Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets in placing players in enforced limbo.

Pehlivanis declined to provide detail of the terms of the stand-down notices, saying only that the club would release a statement later today.

It’s understood staff and players may be able to claim some leave entitlements but it’s unclear what portion of contracts will be paid out - if any - should, as expected, the league remain in a deep freeze after April 22’s reappraisal date.

Only Melbourne City - backed by the financial muscle of the City Football Group - and competition giants Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC have so far managed to guarantee player wages for April.

It’s unknown whether or not Wellington Phoenix will be in a position to avoid becoming the next domino to fall in a grim chain reaction.

PFA CEO John Didulica has taken a hardline over the lay-offs, insisting clubs are breaching the contracts of their players and damaging the competition.

“Whether it is one club or all 11 clubs, our position on this will not change,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

“We will continue to fight for the players who have been dumped and preserve their legal rights, including challenging the stand down notices and, where instructed, seek free agency on the basis of this breach of contract.”

 

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giggler99

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A-League clubs, players reach ceasefire over pay dispute
Vince Rugari

Professional Footballers Australia has brokered a ceasefire agreement with the A-League clubs that have stood down their players, with the union and club owners agreeing to work out a collective solution to the sport's pay dispute.
The PFA has for the past week been at war with several owners who laid off players without pay after the A-League was forced into recess by the coronavirus pandemic, issuing those clubs with letters of demand that the players be immediately reinstated.

By Friday, all but four clubs - Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix - had signalled their intent to follow the lead initially set by Perth Glory chairman Tony Sage and stand down their squads.
But late on Friday afternoon, an agreement to come to the table had been reached, with both PFA chief executive John Didulica and Western Sydney Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer, who heads up the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, confirming a thawing of relations.
Lederer said in a statement that he and Didulica had "reached out to each other to open discussions" and that both parties wanted to avoid legal proceedings.
"Since the inception of APFCA the PFA has worked closely and collaboratively with it to bring about outcomes that are good for the whole of the game which partnership has reaped benefits for the memberships of each," Lederer said.
"The recent statements in the press are not reflective of the relationship both parties enjoy.
"We have agreed today that no further legal steps will be taken and next week we will commence discussions to seek common ground on the issues that confront all clubs and player groups in the country at present."
Didulica told the Herald he was looking forward to more discussions with Lederer and the clubs.
"We've worked closely with the clubs for the last three to four years on a range of matters so there's no doubt we can reach common ground here," he said.

Football Federation Australia said it was "pleased to note" the developments.
Both sides were privately claiming a win - the clubs believe they have successfully headed off the PFA's threat of legal action, while union sources believed they had managed to get clubs to negotiate with them, which is what they wanted all along.
Either way, the outcome is that the unedifying events of the last few days will now be replaced by genuine attempts from both the clubs and the players to strike a resolution which satisfies them both.
The PFA had vowed that it would not yield despite the increasing number of A-League clubs standing down players, with Western United the latest to do so on Friday, and had even raised the possibility of working to achieve free agency for any players impacted by the situation.

Club owners maintained throughout that they were only doing what was necessary to keep their organisations afloat financially amid the COVID-19 crisis, which has presented cash flow challenges to every sport in the country.

The A-League is on pause until April 22, when a meeting will be held to determine whether the final rounds of the competition can be played, but it appears certain that it will have to be delayed for much longer period. What that means for the A-League's broadcast deal with Fox Sports remains to be seen, with players, clubs and even Football Federation Australia in the dark as to the intentions of the pay-TV network, and whether it will pay the quarterly installment in the deal due this month.


 

Elmer_Judd

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acm21

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Zidane98

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Just on these stand downs - they surely cannot continue after when the season would have normally finished with no football being played (ACL aside) in the off season and no subsequent loss of revenue to use as a reason for a stand down.
 

sydney_gws

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If the Virus subsides and people are allowed to go outside, I don't see how they wouldn't start gaining traction again. Bigger crowds looking to actually do something for once. Might actually work in the League's favour. Just need those timeframes to align though...

Odd to bring Welly up specifically, they're fine m8. One of the most financially stable clubs. Sure they work at a loss every season but David Dome and Rob Morrison are onto it. Have both Fox Sports and Sky Sport revenue, but just as long as people don't cancel their subscriptions... Or their memberships. All the Auckland trips help as well. We'll be fine.
They'd be stupid to get rid of the Nux now ;)

I'm more worried for the F1 Derby clubs in all honesty. Especially CCM, with their current owner. How do they recoup and survive when they're at the lowest of lows?
This virus acts as a reality check in many ways. It might after it clears make the nrl realise it is crazy to not have a team based out of Gosford.
That might hasten central coast mariners demise.
 

Zidane98

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We have a real problem with extending the A League season into June if/when the league can restart. Nearly all venues are occupied by other codes.


Unfortunately it looks like Sydney FC are getting the premiers plate. Premiership can't really be awarded without a GF.
 

giggler99

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We have a real problem with extending the A League season into June if/when the league can restart. Nearly all venues are occupied by other codes.


Unfortunately it looks like Sydney FC are getting the premiers plate. Premiership can't really be awarded without a GF.
Plenty of venues to use, especially if we ain't gonna have crowds, you can play at any NPL ground!
 

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Minidisc MD

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TV camera setup for VAR. Secure atea needed etc etc.
Isn't it optional for all competitions, ie why people are petitioning so hard against it in the Premier League because... they could just drop it.

there's barely any games left, if the FFA have any foresight Grand Final venues will have been locked in anyway and generally they work around AFL/NRL fixturing and have hold it on a Sunday evening. if anything, playing games at Lakeside in Melbourne, Leichhardt in Sydney, Parry Park in Brisbane would work well and build some hype for a big venue GF.
 

giggler99

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'We will not act unilaterally': FFA rules out early A-League return
Dominic BossiApril 15, 2020 — 12.13pm
For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.

Football Federation Australia will not follow the NRL by hurrying the resumption of the A-League, vowing to resume the season only after receiving the green light from all state and federal government health agencies.
FFA, club owners and state member federations were briefed by Australia's chief medical officer, professor Brendan Murphy, last week but are some way off knowing when the suspension on all football activity can be lifted. The A-League's suspension will be reassessed on April 22 while all semi-professional and grassroots football has been halted until May 31 and that hiatus could well extend further.
Soccer fans in need of their weekly fix are turning to Belarus, home to one of the few professional leagues that is still playing.
Several A-League clubs informed the Herald they are not expecting to hold games until late June or the start of July at the earliest with players needing weeks of training before being fit enough to play matches.
There are concerns that a delay that pushes the remainder of the season into the next financial year could allow broadcaster Fox Sports to walk away from the final three years of its TV deal, worth $57 million per year. However, FFA ruled out hurrying the A-League season back prematurely even if it was done to keep their broadcast deal intact.
"We have seen other sports acting unilaterally and this is not going to be our approach. This is not just about football, it’s bigger than that. We believe that football will have an important role to play in the recovery of Australian society and we want to be a reliable partner in the government's efforts towards this,” FFA chief James Johnson said.
“We are doing all we can to ensure that both state and federal governments are also fully informed and aligned with our plans to resume both the A-League and grassroots seasons. Our priority remains ensuring the health and well-being of our community and fulfilling our civic duty as a good responsible citizen.”


Meanwhile, the future of this season's Asian Champions League remains even more murky, compounded by international travel restrictions and heightened border regulations.The three Australian clubs competing in this season's competition, Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory remain in the dark over the future of their participation. The Asian Football Confederation today extended the suspension of games for May and June, having flagged the possibility of playing all remaining group games in a central location in the second half of this year. “FFA and other international football authorities, including FIFA and AFC [Asian Football Confederation], are placing the health and well-being of the community, including players, officials and fans, as the top priority - we are totally aligned on this as a precondition to the resumption of competition,” Johnson said.

“As the global game, the very nature of a pandemic has far-reaching consequences for the international football calendar. We are working together with our fellow member associations and AFC to ensure they are fully briefed on the nature of government restrictions that apply at this time, and when they may be relaxed or reassessed.
“In most cases, it is simply too early to predict with any certainty when football may be able to resume. The dialogue is open though, so I’m confident a way forward will be agreed as soon as one becomes possible.”

 

giggler99

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Clubs and FFA in the dark as final broadcast payment due date arrives

A source close to the discussions revealed to The World Game that the broadcasting giant has not responded to the club owners’ enquiries around the status of the $12m payment in the lead-up to the April 15 deadline.

It’s believed the owners, who reportedly spoke overnight about the state of affairs, are convinced that Fox Sports are looking to make a swift exit from the remaining three years of their contract with FFA worth $57m a year.

A secondary source confirmed that Fox Sports are legally bound to pay the final instalment but have been refusing to do so.

It’s understood that prior to the final game of the competition before the A-League suspension was officially announced, Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City players were told that it would be imperative to play for the next payment of the deal.

With rumours swirling that Fox Sports are expected to announce their desire to tear-up the contract imminently, club owners have reportedly been in discussions with other broadcast providers but will be forced to negotiate financial terms at a significantly reduced rate, in spite of the perceived interest.

According to reports, FFA management are bracing themselves for a legal tussle with Fox Sports management in the instance they decide to walk away and have engaged high-profile barrister, Brett Walker SC.

In preparing for the worst-case scenario, clubs are allegedly looking to use the potential Fox exodus as leverage to amend the Collective Bargaining Agreement to a lower base when it expires this June.

An insider confirmed that club chiefs are aiming to halve the salary cap or have it abolished entirely and also pursue opportunities to play at economically feasible boutique stadiums which is something that has been resisted in the past.

Club bosses are also said to be collaborating with the governing body to develop a “whole of football” broadcast deal which could see the professional game, right through to the grassroots, shown and marketed via a single provider.

Fox Sports declined to provide a statement to The World Game, simply saying “we never comment on matters to do with the commercial relationships we have with sporting codes” while FFA did not respond to our request for comment.

 

giggler99

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FFA, Fox Sports split looms as $11.5 million installment goes unpaid | The World Game
By Dave Lewis

Fox Sports officials dramatically called off a planned meeting with FFA chiefs, on the same day the check was due, according to a source close to the ruling body.
With no clarification over when - or even if - Fox Sports will return to the table, FFA is expected to vigorously pursue the missing money through legal channels if need be.
To that end, chief executive James Johnson has enlisted the advice of high ranking barrister Bret Walker, who was part of the successful George Pell appeal and might be unleashed should litigation ensue.
Despite the financial travails of Foxtel, Fox Sports’ parent company, A-League club chiefs were confident they were legally bound to deliver the installment, $9.5 million of which was nominally earmarked to be distributed among the clubs.
However, a well placed FFA source didn’t share that confidence and there is a belief at head office Fox Sports will dig their heels in and continue to withhold payment in the light of their being no product to screen due to the coronavirus shutdown.
FFA is contractually bound to complete the season by July 1 to fulfill its obligations, with a behind-closed-doors race to the finish line still theoretically possible should COVID-19 lock down measures be relaxed by federal and state authorities.
Should that not happen, Fox Sports would be well placed to cite breach of contract and step away from the final three years of their $57.6 million annual deal.
Foxtel, which shed over 200 jobs last week, has been hemorrhaging subscribers and its Fox Sports surrogate has been looking to axe “non-core” content for some time, with the coronavirus seemingly hastening the nadir of its 15-year collaboration with FFA.
The ruling body has had its bottom line further undermined by the non-payment of final installments from departing sponsors, most notably car giant Hyundai, whose $6 million annual commitment expires in June after 15-years as the A-League’s primary backer.
FFA, meanwhile, is working behind the scenes on several possible start-up scenarios for the final five rounds of the regular season, with a preliminary announcement due on April 22 on the immediate destiny of the league.
Safety considerations - ahead of contractual obligations - remain the primary focus, with a June resumption looking like a realist option at this point. FFA were contacted for comment on the broadcast negotiations.

 

Minidisc MD

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wonder if old dickless wonder Adam Nocock is going to get axed? can't wait to tweet him with a "thanks for your efforts, tough industry" like he did to his former colleagues. campaigner of a bloke lately.
 

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DANIEL GARB UNPACKS A-LEAGUE BROADCAST STANDOFF – Box2Box

The FFA and Fox Sportsappear set for a legal battle neither can afford, as the broadcaster looks to cut ties with the A-League despite having over three years to run on their contract.
Having held off on a quarterly payment last week, Fox appear intent on leveraging the A-League’s coronavirus lockdown to find a way out of their increasingly unhappy marriage.
Daniel Garb this week joined Box2Box and expressed some sympathy for Fox, who are themselves undergoing significant financial hardship.
“I can understand Fox Sports’ position, they’ve been wonderful supporters of Australian football since reform in 2004/5, and have backed the game to the hilt”.
“They have got some good returns… but they haven’t the last couple of years so you can understand their position when they’re going through some challenges as well”.
Garb doesn’t envision a replacement broadcaster will be able or willing to pay close to the $57.6million that Fox provide annually, meaning the A-League is set to regress considerably before it improves.
“Even if someone like Optus was interested, they’re not going to pay the same amount and they would be worried about production costs, which are around $80,000 at least a game”, he said.
Garb suggested the model used by the Australian National Basketball League could be considered for short-term survival.
“What the NBL does is it produces the games themselves, they cover the cost for production. They then sell their product on to the television channel, and then they divide up the advertising costs that come from the broadcast”.

 

Zidane98

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DANIEL GARB UNPACKS A-LEAGUE BROADCAST STANDOFF – Box2Box

The FFA and Fox Sportsappear set for a legal battle neither can afford, as the broadcaster looks to cut ties with the A-League despite having over three years to run on their contract.
Having held off on a quarterly payment last week, Fox appear intent on leveraging the A-League’s coronavirus lockdown to find a way out of their increasingly unhappy marriage.
Daniel Garb this week joined Box2Box and expressed some sympathy for Fox, who are themselves undergoing significant financial hardship.
“I can understand Fox Sports’ position, they’ve been wonderful supporters of Australian football since reform in 2004/5, and have backed the game to the hilt”.
“They have got some good returns… but they haven’t the last couple of years so you can understand their position when they’re going through some challenges as well”.
Garb doesn’t envision a replacement broadcaster will be able or willing to pay close to the $57.6million that Fox provide annually, meaning the A-League is set to regress considerably before it improves.
“Even if someone like Optus was interested, they’re not going to pay the same amount and they would be worried about production costs, which are around $80,000 at least a game”, he said.
Garb suggested the model used by the Australian National Basketball League could be considered for short-term survival.
“What the NBL does is it produces the games themselves, they cover the cost for production. They then sell their product on to the television channel, and then they divide up the advertising costs that come from the broadcast”.

Every single a league fan should cancel their foxtel subscription should this happen. Its the only reason I have foxtel myself personally. More than enough footy on FTA to feed my appetite and with no CL / PL on FS there really isnt much on there worth signing up to.

Coronavirus is a short term thing and really most of the season is complete so using it as leverage makes no sense to me.
 

giggler99

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Football Federation Australia extends the postponement of the Hyundai A-League

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today re-confirmed its intention to resume the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season as soon as possible, identifying a number of criteria that need to be satisfied before a firm date for the resumption could be set. Those criteria include the sustainable provision of:
· Player and staff Health and Safety threshold requirements
· State and Federal border restrictions being lifted
· Large gathering restrictions allowing for the required squads and support staff to gather
· Social distancing protocols being agreed with governments to allow the holding of professional games
The FFA confirmed that it is in ongoing dialogue with government health authorities on all of these elements with thresholds for activation being identified.
Any recommencement would require an initial period of training and conditioning for club squads in order to ensure both the health and safety of the Hyundai A-League’s elite players and the integrity of the competition.
FFA Chief Executive James Johnson said there was agreement between the FFA and the clubs that the season would be completed, “Our goal is to deliver live, professional football and complete the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 season, and we have set a number of criteria that will define when this is going to be possible.
“Our priority remains the health and safety of all players and staff and we will need to be satisfied that appropriate measures are in place to ensure this. Secondly, we will need to meet all government restrictions in place at the time, including state/territory border controls. Finally, any decision to resume will be made in full alignment with Government and its medical advisors.
“We will resume play as soon as possible, and the first stage would see the players return to training. We would then schedule matches. It is difficult to see that process beginning before the end of May, but we will work with all stakeholders to achieve the earliest possible resumption.
“Football takes its responsibilities as a good corporate citizen very seriously, and remains committed to working in partnership with the Government to slow the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, we want to play our part in supporting the social and mental wellbeing of the Australian football family and all sports-loving Australians.
“Ultimately, the coronavirus will have the final say on when we can get the season started again, and completed.
“We want to thank the clubs and players who have been understanding of the current circumstances and worked collaboratively with us in relation to this matter throughout this period. I would also like to acknowledge our supporters, commercial partners and football community who continue to remain engaged and connected during this difficult time, and we thank them for their continued support.
FFA will continue to work with the clubs as well as our broadcasters and provide a further update in May 2020. In the meantime, please stay engaged with the Hyundai A-League and Clubs through all our social channels.

 

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