Delay FFA Cup: Smith Report

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Socceroos’ World Cup qualifiers being removed from the federal government’s anti-siphoning list and the FFA Cup being delayed are two of the findings from the Smith Report.

The findings of the review into football in Australia by Warwick Smith was released today (Thursday) and included 11 recommendations.

With Football Federation Australia (FFA) expected to finalise a new broadcasting deal “within six months”, according to chairman Frank Lowy, one of the recommendations could be vital.

It states that because of the importance of World Cup qualifiers to the next TV deal, the matches should be removed from the anti-siphoning list.

The World Cup qualifiers were set to be included in the next anti-siphoning list, meaning games on the road to Russia 2018 would be on free-to-air.

But the Smith Report believes that Socceroos games, along with the A-League, should be part of a package to increase its value.

“The government should minimise changes to the status quo in the short to medium-term (capturing the current and next broadcast deal), enabling FFA to package World Cup qualification matches with the A-League and other Socceroos matches, thereby decreasing reliance on government support,” the report recommends.

The report also recommends the FFA put a cup competition, featuring A-League and state league teams, on hold until TV and sponsorship deals were in place.

“The roll-out of new initiatives or programs should be prioritised, with specific consideration of the funding for and timing of the implementation of the FFA Cup,” it states.

“In the absence of an appropriate level of sponsor and broadcast commitment, serious consideration should be given to delaying implementation.”

While not a recommendation, the report also looks at the current stadium deals some A-League clubs have with state governments.

The report states that $5 million is spent on stadium costs across the A-League each season, which is about a quarter of total losses.

“It is not suggested that stadium authorities should offer their facilities for free; however stadium authorities should consider the fledgling nature of the competition and the impact of hiring arrangements that do not reflect the revenues of its tenants,” it states.

“The Commonwealth Government provides special assistance funding to FFA, which in turn indirectly helps underwrite A-League losses which for some clubs are partly due to State-owned stadia hire arrangements.”

Whether this means the federal government puts pressure on state bodies to reduce stadium hire fees to A-League clubs is another thing all together.

These are just a few findings from the Smith Report, which can be accessed from here.

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