An impasse over creating an independently-run A-League has been broken with Football Federation Australia (FFA) to soon cede control to clubs. A new entity will manage the A-League, W-League and youth league in Australia, with a transition from FFA control next season.
The FFA has reached in-principle agreements with football hierarchy in a move which also seemingly assures Wellington Phoenix’s long-term future in the A-League. The Phoenix, whose A-League licence was set to expire at the end of next season, will now effectively become co-owners of the competition under the fresh governance model.
The model had been hotly debated by the FFA and club chiefs but will now be settled by 1 August this year. The New Leagues Working Group, the body mandated by the FFA in October last year to determine the independence model, on Monday announcement a raft of in-principle agreements. They include a governance structure for the leagues overseen by an independent chair and representatives of each of the club license holders, with two additional representatives from FFA.
FFA will get a minimum of $4.5m annually from leagues revenue, earmarked for national teams including the Socceroos and Matildas and grassroots initiatives. But that payment will be waived for the next four seasons, with the money invested back into the leagues.
“This recommendation will see FFA re-invest its licence fee in the Australian professional game in order to help ensure longer-term sustainable returns,” the working group said in a statement.
Other terms also include FFA to receive 10 per cent of any international transfers of A-League players and 10 per cent of any future sales of club licences. FFA will also keep a one-fifth equity share in the new management body.
“Importantly, if a portion of the leagues are ever sold in order to generate investment funds for further growth … then 20 per cent of those proceeds would be allocated to FFA for investment,” the statement said.
The club-based new management entity would also be given full intellectual property and commercial rights. FFA chair Chris Nikou said in-principle agreements would “serve to align and unite Australian football’s interests like never before”.
“Clubs would have greater control over the strategic and commercial direction of the leagues, in turn triggering significant new investment in the quality and marketing,” he said in a statement. “And FFA would be able to focus its energies and resources on the national teams, grassroots and the overall strategic direction of the game.”
FFA would also retain certain veto rights by having a so-called ‘Good of the Australian Game’ share in the new management body, he said.