Football Federation Australia (FFA) has struck an in-principle agreement that will see the soccer governing body relinquish control of the domestic men’s A-League and women’s W-League, which will form two independent organisations.
Recommendations have been laid out in the New Leagues Working Group (NLWG), which was formed by the FFA last October, to usher in a ‘new era’ of Australian soccer and ‘to bring about the evolution and re-invigoration of Australia’s professional domestic competitions’.
Both FFA and the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA) aim to complete long-form agreements reflecting the NLWG’s recommendations by August.
The development follows pressure from the national club owners, who have campaigned hard for independence and will take ownership of both elite leagues, as well as Australia’s Y-League youth competition.
Plans to break away from the FFA were compounded by concerns that the A-League, Australian soccer’s premier men’s club competition, was facing a AUD$120 million (US$83.6 million) shortfall in funding, laid out in a report by the APFCA in April.
Within the NLWG’s recommendations, clubs will have full and perpetual use of their intellectual property rights with the mandate to oversee the running of the leagues, granting them ‘unimpeded control of all commercial rights’ associated with their clubs.
The recommendations also include ‘an appropriate and rigorous governance structure’ for the leagues, which the NLWG suggests should be overseen by an independent chairperson and representatives of each of the 12 club license holders in addition to two FFA representatives.
In the interests of optimising commercial growth of the national game, it has also been recommended that the FFA receives an annual contribution from league revenues. The NLWG says that this should be equal to 1.125 times the amount that will be distributed by the league to any individual club in the same year, and no less than AUD$4.5 million (US$3.1 million).
Meanwhile, it is also suggested that the leagues be relieved of the licence payment obligations for the next four seasons to ensure their sustainability and growth, which effectively means FFA would re-invest its licence fee in the Australian professional game.
Other funding opportunities being considered include the FFA taking ten per cent from the sale of new club licenses and net profits from the sale of any existing licenses, as well as an annual funding allocation equivalent to ten per cent of the value of transfers of Australian players internationally.
It has also been proposed that FFA should retain a 20 per cent, non-diluting and non-voting equity share in the leagues, including a fifth of any revenue generated by the sale of all or a partition of the competitions.