FFA, players reach pay deal to move a step closer to A-League return
29 May, 2020, 10:53 am
A major obstacle to the resumption of the A-League season has been cleared, after players agreed to a pay deal with Football Federation Australia and club owners that is set to see them keep at least 95 per cent of their salaries.
The agreement, struck on Thursday afternoon, paves the way for the A-League to resume in mid July, with FFA awaiting the sign-off from broadcaster Foxtel, before confirming a 35-day hub to complete the season.
“All parties have worked together extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure the professional game is ready to resume,” FFA chief James Johnson said.
“We are now looking forward to the agreement of our broadcast partner, Fox Sports, to our fixture proposal and timings. That’s the final piece of the jigsaw and once we have it in place we can move forward quickly.”
As revealed by the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday, the resumption of the A-League has been delayed in part due to Foxtel’s reluctance to broadcast the remainder of this season without first negotiating a reduction on the broadcast deal.
Foxtel needs to trim costs after suffering significant losses in recent years, incurring debt of over $2bn (NZ$2.1 billion) and having to cut more than 250 jobs in the past month.
There is a growing belief within the game that Foxtel’s desire to televise the A-League has diminished. Sources with knowledge of negotiations suggest Foxtel sought to reduce its $57 million cheque to the FFA by more than 75 per cent for the remaining three years of the TV deal.
Foxtel declined to comment when contacted by the Herald on Thursday. Discussions between FFA and Foxtel remain ongoing but A-League sources suggest they will not accept a lowball offer simply to resume the season.
Thursday’s deal with the players also rubber-stamped plans to bring all teams into the greater Sydney region to play the remaining games in venues behind closed doors. The two venues will be Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah and WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
Any games involving only Victorian teams will be the first to be played, with games held behind closed doors in Melbourne before teams travel to the Sydney hub.
“The hub strategy means that we have a unique opportunity to showcase the Hyundai A-League through a different lens and we will be including new and innovative elements to the matchday broadcast experience,” Head of the A-League, Greg O’Rourke, said.
“Our focus is also on optimising the broadcast flow and therefore providing football content seven days a week. We believe that there are great opportunities for our broadcast partner and therefore the fans.”