NLWG reaches in-principle agreement on the future of the professional game

NLWG reaches in-principle agreement on the future of the professional game

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The A-League, W-League and Y-League have taken a giant step towards formal independence from Football Federation Australia (FFA); with the New League’s Working Group (NLWG) reaching an in-principle agreement over the future governance of the competitions.

In a Monday morning release the bodies that made up the NLWG – the FFA, Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA), Member Federations and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) – declared that the agreement would allow the professional game to flourish and allow the FFA to focus on delivering outcomes to national teams, grassroots participation and complementary pathways/competitions whilst being left “no worse off.”

The agreement reached declares that professional clubs will take full and continuous use of their intellectual property and commercial rights and receive a mandate to run the A-League, W-League and Y-League through the use of an “appropriate and rigorous governance structure” made up of representatives from the 12 A-League clubs, two representatives of the FFA and an independent Chair. Canberra United would be granted observer status on matters affecting the W-League.

The new management of the new independent body overseeing the A-League, W-League and Y-League is set to be built up over the coming season, with the APFCA clubs committing to providing the necessary resourcing.

Other major agreements reached by the NLWG include:

  • An annual contribution from the newly independent league’s revenues to the FFA that will be equal to 1.125 times the amount that will be distributed by the body to any individual club that same year.
    • The minimum contribution will be A$4.5m per year in the first instance and indexed linked to CPI afterwards.
  • The newly independent leagues will be freed of their licence payment obligations for the next four years in order to encourage investment – which the APFCA is promising as part of the agreement.
  • The FFA will receive 10% of the profits from the sale of new Club licenses and of the net profits from any sale of existing licenses.
  • The FFA will receive a funding allocation annually equivalent to 10% of the value of transfers of Australian domestic players internationally.
  • The FFA will retain a 20%, non-diluting and non-voting, ‘Good of the Game” share in the newly independent leagues.

The agreement also flags a potential reorganisation of the FFA Congress. The APFCA, who currently appoint three members of the independent women’s council, will see their share of appointments reduced to one; with the other two now to be named independently.

A review will also be undertaken on the make-up of the Congress in the wake of the league’s independence.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari, the parties involved in the NLWG will now work to finalizing the agreement by a new deadline of August 1; with those negotiations considered a fait accompli.

Once those agreements have been reached, the FFA Board will be required to give its approval before it moves to the FFA Congress for final approval.

The agreement likely secures the fate of New Zealand based A-League side Wellington Phoenix, who will transition from needing to meet continuing criteria from the FFA in order to maintain their presence to a part owner of the competition.

FFA Chairman Chris Nikou welcomed the agreement reached by the parties.

“The recommendations of the NLWG serve to align and unite Australian football’s interests like never before,” Nikou said

“Clubs would have greater control over the strategic and commercial direction of the leagues, in turn triggering significant new investment in the quality and marketing of all three leagues, and FFA would be able to focus its energies and resources on the National Teams, grassroots and the overall strategic direction of the game in concert with all of FFA’s members, including the Women’s Football Council, State and Territory Member Federations and Professional Footballers Australia. 

“Importantly, FFA would retain influence in key areas of the Leagues through the Good of the Game Share.

“I thank the members of the NLWG that have worked tirelessly over many months to produce these recommendations.”

It was a sentiment echoed by APFCA Chair Paul Lederer.

“For the professional game in Australia, and indeed the game as a whole in our country, these recommendations are the foundations for a critically needed evolution and vitalisation,” he said

“Once executed they will create the environment for investment and associated opportunities that we all want to see. The 12 member clubs of APFCA are focused on completing the NLWG process and beginning the transformation process in earnest.

“Our members are committed to investing in and delivering the elevation of all three of our National Professional Leagues to the status they deserve and the levels that all of the stakeholders of our game rightfully expect. The real work begins now.”  

PFA Chief Executive John Didulica, too, welcomed the agreement and emphasised the need to continue its momentum.

“This consensus reached between FFA and the Clubs is an essential step forward,” Didulica said.

“It is now critical that we shift our focus and start designing a footballing future that drives commercial growth, fan engagement and our international competitiveness; through reforming the A-League model, turbo-charging the W-League and ensuring we develop the Y-League into a genuine development pathway.

“It also remains necessary to embed the rights of the players and the position of the PFA in the new governance framework, and we will be working to reach agreement on these matters as a matter of urgency.”

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