Although always hot topics, expansion and promotion/relegation have officially been put on the back burner by FFA.
Plans to consolidate have been placed high on the A-League’s agenda.
As Football Federation Australia chief executive Davis Gallop knows all too well, his objective is to oversee and provide sustainability while bringing commercial viability to each of the A-League’s 10 teams.
Unlike the Independent Commission (IC) that was brought into rugby league towards the end of Gallop’s tenure, he does not believe that a “go-it-alone commission” with the clubs taking charge of the A-League is the way to go.
Gallop ultimately favours a more centralised model with input from all interested parties (club owners, sponsors, investors, players), which ultimately will seek to accomplish the same sort of principles; improving the game while moving forward to achieve set targets and goals.
“It’s not affordable to consider that kind of structure. The competitive environment that we operate in lends itself to a business model where all the components of the game live together in a centralised structure,” Gallop said talking to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“At the same time we need to be continuing to provide meaningful opportunities for the A-League clubs, their owners and investors to be part of the game’s decision making process.
“The continued prosperity of the A-League as it heads towards its 10th season requires focus. We are continuing to work with the clubs and the club owners to make sure their investment is well protected.
“We have to get resolution on a few issues around the length of licences; that’s something we are keen to get involved to everyone’s satisfaction – how we come up with a structure that protects their investment and gives them security for the future while still having appropriate safeguards as the governing body of the game.”
As mentioned before, Gallop is not keen on expansion in the short term, though he does not rule out the prospect of bringing in more teams once the current television rights expire.
Promotion/relegation has always been a long term prospect/goal for Australian football to strive for, but Gallop has once again reaffirmed his commitment to consolidating a 10-team competition.
“We need to consolidate the 10-team competition that we have got and make sure we continue to provide a close and compelling competition to the broadcasters,” he said.
“Promotion and relegation has got challenges when you are dealing with a country the size of Australia, where we need teams in specific geographic locations. It’s not something we are considering with much focus at the moment.”
Having followed rugby league for some time, I became accustomed to Gallop’s well thought out and reasonable offerings.
I’m yet to question the man, and I shall keep it that way, but I was surprised as to the amount of revenue he seeks once the current television deal finishes.
Football Federation Australia aims to more than double its $40 million a year in TV revenues.
When the next broadcast deal is struck, the potential to lift rights fees as high as $100 million a year is the target!
Given not even a year has passed with free-to-air ratings to warrant such an amount, Gallop feels it is important to aim high.
“The A-League is the financial backbone of the business in terms of the new television deal, and the goal is of making sure that the next TV deal is a substantial increase in rights fees from the current one,” Gallop said.
“It’s difficult to pin down what the value will be, but we need to be aiming high, and I think it’s realistic to aim for a very hefty increase. It’s $40 million a year at the moment . . . a doubling would be the least we would expect.”
For some, and this may be the most deterring prospect, the need for increased TV revenues could mean the likelihood of seeing our product go to the likes of Channels 7, 9 or 10, but it’s a thought we may have to get used to if football is continue moving into the future.
Gallop still knows that traditional broadcast media remain the best revenue option.
“Digital growth has obviously been an important part of the sport’s progress. But ultimately both pay television and free-to-air is the goose that lays the golden egg for sport still, and football needs to be focused on that.”
This is all evidence to the presumption that David Gallop is a man on a mission.
The next logical step now is to ensure strong relationships continue to be forged as club owners and all parties work towards the agenda of consolidation.