Football’s future has never looked more assured
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Football’s future has never looked more assured. We have a ten-team A-League, the W-League, Socceroos and Matildas, plus other national sides.
Three places in the ACL.
The A-League has never looked more healthy, finally most clubs are trying to live within their means. Finally FFA are in a (sorta) partnership with the A-League clubs to better the competition.
A new media deal is on hand probably around the 60 to 80 million mark. My previous estimate of 100 to 120 million has come down due to the fact until very recently I was under the impression that Socceroos matches were owned as a product by FFA.
The AFC own all matches played by the Socceroos (and I assume ACL) in Asian qualifiers i.e. the World and Asian Cups. The fee paid to FFA for these matches is one million per match, well below its true worth, however something to build on for the future. Maybe a way for the AFC try to assist smaller Asian nations against countries like Japan and Australia.
There are a number of reasons for why I feel so confident:
The A-League is getting better at a technical level each season. The bleeding of football’s best to other codes has all but dried up. The national training programs have unearthed some very good players recently and will continue to do so over the next few years.
The clubs are better run in that most are trying to live within a budget and by and large unaffordable marquees are not being chased. However, high quality players are still being found.
With the second Sydney team and the painful exit from North Queensland and the Gold Coast over with, the A-League finally has a reach across the major population areas and is out of regional centres, which it should be at this stage of its growth.
The combined brain trust of the A-League clubs and FFA working together will yield good results.
Crowds and ratings were up this season, despite the two biggest clubs having lean seasons. New coaches and squads at the Victory and Sydney FC, as well as the Western Sydney team, should see both crowds and ratings increase next season.
Then there’s the new media deal, which is estimated at between 60-80 million. The 60 million is made up as follows: A-League 35 million, Socceroos Asian matches (assume 6 per year) 6 million, Socceroos friendlies (assume 6 per year) 15 million and internet rights 4 million.
Interestingly, on these figures, the A-League brings in more than the Socceroos. Moreover, football and the A-League teams have learnt how to be lean. They run, by comparison to the other football codes, at a much lower cost.
A-League clubs as I see it are far more nimble than the larger rugby, AFL and NRL clubs, meaning the increased media deal will assist them hugely. Also, it is becoming clear than at least one A-League match will be on FTA, something the A-League is finally ready for.
Football has many critics, rumours of its destruction are often made, especially from those within football who take the view that they alone have all the wisdom. Frank Lowy’s recent appearance with Eddie McGuire on an AFL-related program was, in my view, done to give the indication that football was not on its last legs.
It was a very clever move, hopefully convincing the mainstream media that football is under control and here to stay.
With a degree of pride, I believe when the Mariners’ Centre of Football Excellence completes a major phase around late October this year, all of football will take pride in it.
It will draw a line in the sand, sending a message about the A-League both to its fans and traditional media outlets.
In summary, we are in a strong position to expand at a steady pace, moving towards the 2018 media deal. With twelve teams, the funding gap will close even further.