A-League players and clubs have called on football’s warring factions to make a deal for an independent competition before July.
The June 30 deadline has been set by FFA after the New Leagues Working Group (NLWG), tasked with finding the right formula for a breakaway league, tabled a long-awaited report into the matter on Tuesday.
The 70-page paper leaves plenty of scope for negotiation on issues of finances and governance.
But Professional Footballers Australia chief John Didulica said there was no room to go slow on an “inevitable” reform for the game.
“The biggest concern for me is gridlock,” he said. “If we do nothing and are aimless and rudderless with where this process will go, the game will grind to an absolute halt.
“We need energetic discussions … this is not a unique exercise in world football.”
Didulica cited breakaways in Spain, the U.S. and Germany, as well as a long-standing agreement in Japan that could be used as models for Australia to follow.
Western Sydney chief Paul Lederer, speaking on behalf of the 10 professional clubs, stood alongside the players’ boss in comments also issued on Wednesday.
“Our league needs to be immediately turned around and put on a growth trajectory, together with the W and Y-Leagues. They must be invested in now,” he said.
“Combined, the clubs will lose more than $25 million this year and we and the game will have little to show for it.
“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.”
Didulica reported harmonious discussions from around the table — including representatives of players, clubs, state federations, broadcasters and head office.
But there are certainly still major hurdles to overcome, not least of all safeguarding the resources behind the beloved Socceroos and Matildas.
The previous FFA board, led by Steven Lowy, was steadfast in warning professional club owners away from funding earmarked for the 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.”