A-League clubs are calling out for increased investment. Picture: AAP
A-League clubs are calling out for increased investment. Picture: AAP

The crazy figure clubs claim can save the A-League

IMPATIENT A-League clubs claim they must invest more than $120m over the next four years just to have a hope of growing the dwindling value of professional game's broadcast rights.

The whopping figure was thrown into the public domain on the same day the players' union implored Australian football's fighting factions to find common ground on a breakaway A-League or risk the game "grinding to an absolute halt".

Painstakingly detailed talks on how to spin off the A-League independently in time for next season will go down to the wire, after the group tasked with the exhaustive challenge pushed back by three months the deadline for a final blueprint to be signed off and ratified.

The New League Working Group's (NLWG) new June 30 target is already pushing it fine, leaving the clubs less than four months to prepare for next season under a new, self-governed model.

And extensive negotiation is still required between Football Federation Australia, the clubs, nine state federations and Professional Footballers Australia over the precise division of TV revenue, commercial rights and competition structure.

 

PFA chief executive John Didulica said there was no more margin for delaying the "inevitable" separation.

"The biggest concern for me is gridlock," Didulica said on Wednesday.

"If we are aimless and rudderless with this process, the game will grind to an absolute halt.

"We need energetic discussions because this is not difficult, it's not a unique exercise in world football."

FFA CEO David Gallop. Picture: AAP
FFA CEO David Gallop. Picture: AAP

Didulica cited Germany, Spain, the US and Japan as examples that have undergone a successful transition to an independent model.

He had vocal support from the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA), representing the 10 professional clubs, which declared Australian football "must be invested in now".

"Our league needs to be immediately turned around and put on a growth trajectory, together with the W and Y-Leagues," APFCA and Western Sydney Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer said.

"...Combined, the clubs will lose more than $25 million this year and we and the game will have little to show for it.

"If we are to turn the professional game around and fulfil its potential, the clubs will need to invest more than $120m over the next four years.

"Only in that way can the value of the league's broadcast rights be maintained or grown at the end of the current cycle.

APFCA and Western Sydney Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer. Picture: Getty Images
APFCA and Western Sydney Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer. Picture: Getty Images

"We cannot be expected to continue to financially prop up something that we do not own and that is managed by a third party that is failing to perform."

This week's report by the NLWG, chaired by Judith Griggs, establishes "key principles" for the new league and Didulica said discussions had been largely harmonious and proactive.

A key issue remains the protection of grassroots and national teams.

"We have to reset the economics of the game through this process, there's no doubt," Didulica said.

"The A-League clubs will say they are going to be able to run the A-League a lot leaner than it's currently run which will free up some money.

"That will hopefully find its way back into a licensing fee back to FFA.

"The challenge for FFA will be to negotiate a deal directly between FFA and the clubs where they are getting enough investment so they can provide preparation for the national teams."