Following the submission of the New Leagues Working Group (NLWG) report to the FFA Board, the APFCA has issued the following statement in order to provide clarity on the position of its members.
Whilst mandated in October 2018, the New Leagues working Group was not convened until six weeks ago and in the view of APFCA members this has placed an unnecessary time pressure on what was and is a vital process for the Australian game.
Importantly, the NLWG process at last shed light on the details of the FFA finances that APFCA members had been seeking for a number of years. It also revealed clearly the existing impediments and future opportunities that the professional game in Australia must consider.
As such, the APFCA views the truncated New Leagues Working Group process as being a positive extension of the good will and collaboration of the Congress Reform Process. Much has been packed into a six-week process that was originally envisioned to require six months. The APFCA is grateful for the efforts of all concerned.
However, the APFCA is of the strong view that Australian football is at a critical juncture in its history. Speaking on behalf of all APFCA members, APFCA Chairman Paul Lederer said:
“The message from the Broadcaster and sponsors is clear. 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.
The message from the A-League Clubs also needs to be clearly understood. The professional game must be transformed now in order to make it something that can be invested in. The Clubs are the only investors ready to provide the capital required to see our domestic elite professional game flourish.
Combined, the clubs will lose more than $25m 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.
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.”
He added: “The FFA and the stakeholders of the Australian game need to decide, and do so quickly. Do you want a domestic professional competition that maintains us as an advancing football nation? Or in four years’ time do you want to go back to the days when our elite player pathway was based entirely overseas? That is the decision to be made in the coming weeks. The game is at a critical decision point and the clock is ticking.”
The APFCA Members remain committed to a meaningful, transparent and rapid process that creates the appropriate outcomes for the professional game in Australia and the Australian football family. To that end, APFCA members are focused on resolutions for new Independent professional Leagues based on the rapid completion of the ‘Professional Leagues Framework’ which was developed as part of the NLWG process.