The APFCA is advocating for a number of important changes to Australian football’s governance arrangements. These include the long-awaited transition to an independent A-League and more democratic representation for professional clubs and players in an expanded FFA Membership.
The APFCA believes that the proposed transition to an independent A-League would lead to improved governance outcomes by reducing conflicts of interest in league-related decisions and bringing the competition’s governance framework more closely into line with best practices in other Australian sports and the world’s most successful football leagues.
The APFCA is also lobbying for an expanded FFA Membership based on a nine (Federation Reps), six (A-League Club Reps), two (PFA Reps) configuration that more accurately reflects the role of the professional game in Australian football. Such a configuration will allow the professional game to work in collaboration with the sport’s other important stakeholders in a formal and empowered setting for the benefit of the whole football family.
The APFCA believes that some common-sense changes to the rules and regulations of the A-League would improve the quality of football played in the competition while preserving its competitive balance.
This would potentially include enhancing the rules governing transfers, loans and the use of overseas players, creating new opportunities for homegrown young players to gain experience in the competition, investing in the recruitment, training, development of professional referees to officiate in A-League matches, and adjusting fixture schedules to avoid clashes with international matches while retaining the competition’s existing 30-round format.
The A-League and its clubs currently lose approximately $25m per year with nine out of ten A-League clubs reporting a net loss in 2015-16. This is not a new phenomenon, with the league’s short history punctuated by the dissolution of multiple clubs and the return of multiple licences.
Nowhere are the financial challenges faced by A-League clubs more evident than in relation to the distribution of broadcast revenue. Under the current model, the FFA sells the broadcast rights for its various properties, including the A-League, Socceroos, Matildas, FFA Cup and National Youth League, and then allocates a share of the total proceeds back to each of the different properties on the basis of an outdated formula.
Under the current model, the A-League received an approximate 65% share of FFA broadcast revenue for the 2015-16 season. However, independent research undertaken by Nielsen, based on an analysis conducted over a 4-year cycle from 2013 to 2016, suggests that A-League clubs actually produce approximately 90% of the FFA’s domestic broadcast value.
This gap suggests a significant portion of broadcast revenue generated by the A-League is being effectively redistributed to other parts of the football ecosystem while nine out of ten of its clubs are posting financial losses in order to maintain – and improve – the quality, competitiveness and intensity of the sport’s flagship competition. This is inequitable, unjustifiable and unsustainable.
A bigger contribution to the australian football community
The APFCA believes that a thriving, independent A-League underpinned by a more sustainable commercial model could make a bigger long-term contribution to the Australian football community through the provision of sustainable funding to support grassroots football, the strengthening of elite player development pathways, and the generation of increased public interest in the sport.
It is also the view of that APFCA that Australia’s professional clubs should be granted greater autonomy to bolster their in-house elite youth development programs, expand their national recruitment activities, and offer promising young players a clearer and more stable pathway into high-level youth football, and ultimately, the A-League, in consultation with the FFA and state and regional bodies.