So after much speculation and innuendo from football types, the FFA has signed a new TV deal, renewing their contract with Fox Sports.
We finally know what the A-League is worth to Fox Sports, as the competition has signed a new six year deal with the STV provider, worth $346m over six years, which will kick in from next season.
The $346m six-year deal, is made up of $310m in cash ($52m pa) while the remaining $36m is in contra ($6m pa).
The amount of money the FFA has negotiated, or lack there of, has copped plenty of criticism from within football circles. The new $57m per year deal is seen by many as not enough, primarily because of much higher figures of $80m-$100m being bandied around in the media by the FFA in the past 18 months gave many people a false hope, and needlessly lifted their already high expectations.
Sure I would’ve liked more money for the evolution of the game, as would most, but I think the FFA got the best deal it could at this time, and keeping in mind that what we know so far, is only the Fox component of the overall deal.
It’s well known that the FFA have tried to relieve SBS of the current free-to-air game on Friday nights in the past, and get that onto a commercial free-to-air station, without any luck. But the new deal with Fox allows the Saturday night game (Melbourne and Sydney derbies, Big Blue, Victory versus Adelaide etc) to be simulcast live in a free-to-air network.
The FFA will be hoping that this part of the deal, which will be concluded around March 2017, will not only bring in some extra cash but also some much needed extra exposure for the league. Even if it doesn’t attract the huge dollars, the extra eyeballs are very important for the future of the game.
But now that the majority of the deal has been done, everyone within the game has put their hand out for their share. None more so than the A-League owners, who are reportedly asking for $6m per club per year. The FFA will have to juggle those demands, with the demands of all the other stakeholders in the game who will also want more.
It’ll be a tough job for Gallop and co, to slice up the pie and distribute the funds, but this is what they get paid to do, to make the big decisions for the future of the game. This is what I would do, and where I’d spend the money.
I would increase funding to all clubs to $4m each per year ($40m), increase the salary cap to $2.85m with a minimum of $2.6m per year, increase W-League funding to $4m per year ($44m), increase the ‘Marquee Fund’ to $5m ($49m) and increase the marketing and promotional fund to $5m ($54m). The contra part of the new deal would cover the marketing and promotion of the league
The remaining $3m per year would be kept for any contingencies or emergencies that may come up, including rescuing any team that may be falling over, or if their owners take off and leave clubs dangling by a thread.
And the FFA could use the extra incoming money from free-to-air, the international and the digital rights (assume $15m-20m per year for the lot) for some of the other priorities in the game, like funding grassroots, part funding of facilities etc.
Expansion is also another hot topic in the game, but those details weren’t clear cut in the presentation of the new deal. Some believe that it will be funded by extra money aside from the new deal, others believe that the FFA will have to slice up new deal 12 ways instead of 10, with no extra money to come in for expansion, but I guess time will tell.
In a nutshell, yes this deal could’ve been better for the game, but if the money is spent wisely, I think its enough to keep growing the sport, and help it get to the next level.