Where does all the money football generates actually go?

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    Cutting costs and increasing fees – Football Federation Australia is under siege once again as the high price of running football comes under the microscope.

    The Australian’s resident football journalist Ray Gatt revealed on Tuesday that FFA spent an average of around $300,000 per player sending the Socceroos to the World Cup in Russia.

    Despite pocketing at least $10 million for qualifying for the World Cup finals, Gatt also said the FFA was only expecting to break even from the tournament.

    It prompted a verbose response from the FFA, who stated that football “doesn’t yet generate the massive revenues from broadcast agreements that the other major codes enjoy”.

    In the same breath they also announced that National Registration fees would be increasing for the first time since 2013.

    “The NRF increase is $1.40 a year for junior players (to $14 up from $12.60) and $8.00 a year for senior players (to $33 up from $25),” the FFA said in their statement.

    For all intents and purposes, it looks like a case of the grassroots subsidising the top end of the game.

    And it comes on the back of parents across Australia struggling to pay the ever-increasing costs of registering their kids to play football.

    It should be acknowledged that sending a national team to the World Cup finals is always going to be an expensive proposition. There would have been just as much of an outcry had the Socceroos not prepared for the tournament properly.

    But increasing registration fees barely a week after the Socceroos exit the World Cup is not a great look for the game.

    Socceroos Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan react after losing a World Cup game

    (SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Outspoken former international and current Fox Sports commentator Robbie Slater has suggested the Socceroos were already one of the highest paid teams in the World Cup.

    It also seems relevant to wonder just how much the FFA spent on sending its own executives over to Russia.

    It goes without saying that FFA should have indeed had some presence at the World Cup – it’s the perfect way to do some networking, after all – but there’s a perception that, with independent chairwoman Judith Griggs now in charge of the Congress Review Working Group, the World Cup represented one last chance for an all-expenses paid junket before the winds of change sweep through the game.

    And the issue of who is funding what plays a role in A-League expansion as well.

    Football might not enjoy the same broadcast revenues as other codes, but as the FFA hinted in their statement on Tuesday, one of the reasons they’re expanding the A-League is to try and encourage more people to watch it.

    And the $57 million Fox Sports is paying annually to broadcast the competition isn’t exactly chump change.

    Is it any wonder, then, that expansion bids like Tasmania’s fall by the wayside when it’s understood Fox Sports’ preference is for the next two expansion clubs to come from a major metropolitan market in one of Australia’s three largest cities?

    How can anyone – and this counts for fans as much as the FFA – expect Fox Sports to effectively subsidise running the A-League without having a say in important topics like expansion?

    Of course, there’s so much more to running football in Australia than just the A-League.

    As the FFA themselves pointed out, their $121 million budget for the next financial year is intended to cover the costs of not only the A-League and the Socceroos, but also the Matildas’ campaign at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

    These things cost money – that’s a given.

    But having slashed $5 million from their “central costs” last year, as well cutting a further $1.6 million this year, it’s hard not to wonder where all this money is actually being spent.

    I’m not for a second suggesting I have all the answers. I just think it’s important we ask the question.

    UPDATE: The FFA has responded to this article, pointing out a breakdown of funding costs can be found in their 2017 annual report.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist since December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (146)

    • Roar Pro

      July 6th 2018 @ 7:40am
      Andrew said | July 6th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      Let’s hope we don’t end up like the USA and it’s prohibitively high fees, resulting in large swathes of the population unable to join a club.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 8:57am
        steve said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        You’re right, I lived in the US from ages 9-15 and soccer is seen as a white, privileged sport because the costs are outrageous. I’m curious as to what it is like in countries such as Belgium, Spain or England for example.

        • July 6th 2018 @ 7:19pm
          Arto said | July 6th 2018 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

          I live in Norway and paid approx. $400 for my 10y/o’s 2018 season. That doesn’t cover everything, but Insurance & registration as well as membership of his club is included. We (parents) have approx. $125 for his team to spend on Things such as paying for refs. enetering Cup competitions, new training equipment, clothes (excluding playing jersey), etc. We can get sponsors or sell special products to earn money instead of that $125 contribution, but it still means it costs about $500 per year to play here.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 10:08am
        vin said | July 6th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        Played state league for Blacktown city u/13’s to u/17’s between 1995 – 1999.
        it was free, best players were selected.

        same club same level it now costs anyway between 2k – 3k for a kid to play and selection isnt always based on whether your good enough but whether you have the money.

        the clubs are partly at fault here, but the FFA needs to stop spending most of the money on the socceroos because no amount of luxuries like first class hotels, 1st class flights is going to improve the results, producing talent is going to improve results.

        and finally is David Gallop really worth 2 million per year? no one can challenge can they, we are just tied up with no democracy in football with the FFA in charge.

        • July 6th 2018 @ 10:20am
          Kris said | July 6th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

          I think what football needs is less Ray Gatt’s pouring over the financial statements or Craig Foster’s complaining about $1.50; and more people detailing the actual costs for actual kids at actual clubs.

          • July 6th 2018 @ 11:33am
            Mark said | July 6th 2018 @ 11:33am | ! Report

            Craig Foster complaining about the cost increase is the height of hypocrisy given his role in the outrageously high match fees paid to Socceroos players.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 6th 2018 @ 12:05pm
              Eamon Stocker said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

              How was Craig Foster involved in the Socceroos match fees?

              • July 6th 2018 @ 12:27pm
                AGO74 said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

                He’s been in and around the PFA for a long time who negotiated the Socceroos pay deal. Classic sideline critic is foster – all care, no responsibility.

              • July 6th 2018 @ 12:39pm
                Franko said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

              • July 6th 2018 @ 12:41pm
                Mark said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

                He was also one of the key agitators of the Socceroos squad of the late 90s that bent then Soccer Australia over a barrel by threatening to go on strike prior to key qualifiers. A number of players from that squad still hate other players from the squad because of it…Foz and Slater being two examples.

              • July 6th 2018 @ 3:56pm
                Redondo said | July 6th 2018 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

                Craig Foster has done good work on behalf of Aus footballers. It’s really only Robbie Slater who pushes the anti-Foster line when it comes to player payments.


              • July 6th 2018 @ 5:47pm
                Mark said | July 6th 2018 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

                It’s not just Slater that feels that way, although he is the only one who will say it publicly.

                Auto unions used to say the same things about their generous pay deals looking after future auto workers. Look how that turned out for them.

              • July 6th 2018 @ 5:50pm
                Mark said | July 6th 2018 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

                To be fair though, I have no issue whatsoever with the motivations of Tapai etc who were semi pro, and for whom the tournaments were a rare chance of a decent pay day. Those circumstances have long stopped being applicable, but the legacy of the pay deals negotiated during those times lives on.

              • July 6th 2018 @ 6:09pm
                Redondo said | July 6th 2018 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

                Mark – If others won’t say then how do you know?

                In any case, it’s a bit rich to call Foster’s comments this week hypocritical when the industrial action he took part in 20 years ago was quite justifiable.

                Regarding the auto industry – are you suggesting Australian workers should have taken a 75% pay cut to keep manufacturing here competitive?

              • July 6th 2018 @ 7:27pm
                Mark said | July 6th 2018 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

                Foster is a hypocrite because he continues to be a cheerleader for the PFA on this matter.

                With the auto industry, I don’t want to labour the point on something off topic, but it was not just about them being paid well above the value of their skills, but the unproductive work practices entrenched in the industry. Taxes shouldn’t prop up uncompetitive industries, particularly where many of the causes are self-inflicted.

              • July 7th 2018 @ 1:29pm
                Redondo said | July 7th 2018 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                Mark – which article in the Australian told you that?

            • Roar Rookie

              July 8th 2018 @ 5:59pm
              Eamon Stocker said | July 8th 2018 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

              But that’s his job

    • July 6th 2018 @ 8:07am
      chris said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Ray Gatt must have the worst job in journalism.
      Imagine being the football writer on The Australian.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 9:12am
        Savvas Jonis said | July 6th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        They are certainly the most anti football of all newspapers. Appalling newspaper.

    • July 6th 2018 @ 8:20am
      AR said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      A few things…

      First, if junior costs really haven’t risen since 2013, then a small rise of $1.40 seems pretty reasonable.

      Second, this – “the $57 million Fox Sports is paying annually to broadcast the competition isn’t exactly chump change” – just is not true. I cannot understand why people, especially sports writers, continue to cite this number.

      $57m per year was the estimated value which was *conditional*…on selling games to a FTA provider (which didn’t happen) and adding 2 more teams in Yr 2 of the deal (which also didn’t happen). The real number is closer to $45m per year.

      Third, we know where at least some of the money is going – Gallop’s $1.4m annual paycheck doesn’t just fall from the sky.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 11:24am
        MQ said | July 6th 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        As Nemesis advises below, the new broadcast deal started on 1 July 2017, so the full annual value of the deal will be apparent in the next annual report (the financial year just completed).

        We will know whether it’s closer to $45 mill per annum or $57 mill per annum.

    • July 6th 2018 @ 8:27am
      Buddy said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      Is it a happy coincidence that FFA raise their fees shortly after the NSW government brought in the $100 Active kids rebate? Could it be that they want their slice of the pie? After all grassroots under 5 to under 18’s provides the numbers and it will be assumed that adults who pay a higher levy will just “suck it up”.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 1:59pm
        Kris said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

        Or many price increases get announced at the beginning of a new financial year?

    • July 6th 2018 @ 8:31am
      Post_hoc said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

      So we really are complaining that after no FFa Fee rise for 5 years it is going up $1.40 really? My daily coffee has probably gone up by 50 cents in that time period, so that 3 coffees over an entire year.

      So Our National body, who unlike other codes have internationals to send teams to from Under 16’s up (Currently the young Matildas are in Asia) take $14 a year from my kids registration fee? I am impressed that is all they take, the fact they manage to run on that is amazing.

      How much do Football NSW take? How much does my Association take? I know how much my club takes. Sorry but is this really that much of a problem? $14?

      • July 6th 2018 @ 9:54am
        scouser4life said | July 6th 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        i am with you post hoc. $1.40 is nothing today.

      • Roar Guru

        July 6th 2018 @ 10:54am
        Chris Kettlewell said | July 6th 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        That has to be the question. Who is taking all the money. With the sort of exhorbitant figures I hear about the costs of getting kids to play football compared to other sports, where is that going? Maybe it’s not the FFA, maybe it’s state organisations or somewhere else, but it makes no sense that football should be the most expensive game to play.

        My kids are still pretty little, but football is certainly a game I’d like to get them into playing. A team sport like that is good for their development, even if they never turn into great footballers, but some of the costs I hear getting thrown about are certainly quite off-putting!

        • July 6th 2018 @ 1:18pm
          Post_hoc said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

          Chris, I wouldn’t worry too much. NSW kids get $100 active kids rebate, the total cost this year at my club for Under 6’s and 7’s was $125, so a total of $25 cost to parents to register their kids, that included Registration, Nike Jersey and a Nike football both of them to keep Of course they needed to buy there shorts and socks but they added cost was a further $25 so $50 total got them registered, Full Nike Kit, and Ball.

          8 and 9’s were $25 more expensive, so were are not talking a hell of a lot of money. No Junior at my club paid more $200

          • July 6th 2018 @ 1:41pm
            chris said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            And when you consider the cost of ground hire (game and training nights), referees, insurance etc. that is not expensive over 18 odd games.
            Some people just whinge about anything and everything.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 11:57am
        Campbell said | July 6th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        The small amount isn’t the issue or what should be looked at, nor implicitly what people are angry about. Big picture is that people (adults inc. over 35s) and parents (young kids) are paying $500 to $3,000 a season depending on the level.

        Why are the clubs asking for so much and how much of these fees are going to the FFA?

        • July 6th 2018 @ 12:48pm
          Mark said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

          Very little of it. Most goes to the State Feds or the clubs themselves.

          It goes to show the folly of the proposed second division. Many of the clubs agitating for it already rely on a business model of juniors paying through the nose to fund the senior first squad. To be bluntly honest, a second division will generate very little, if any, tv revenue or additional gate revenue. So how do these clubs expect to fund the cost of second division teams? Will it be by fleecing juniors for even more money? My expectation is that unless the FFA are willing to underwrite it, it won’t get off the ground, and I think the FFA has far more important things to spend its money on.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 6th 2018 @ 1:06pm
            Waz said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

            “the FFA has far more important things to spend its money on” … the FFA doesn’t have money. It only administers what other parts of the game has.

          • July 6th 2018 @ 2:16pm
            Kris said | July 6th 2018 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

            A lot of clubs run their junior programs as a cash cow to pay the wages of the senior players.

            Sign up 200 kids at $2000 and you have $400k towards the running costs of the club. You might then spend a large portion of that on your semi-pro players in your State League side.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 6th 2018 @ 3:11pm
              Waz said | July 6th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

              Most clubs would be lucky to have 75 kids in their development stream though. I’m sure the money helps but you’re not running a football team on the back of it.

            • July 6th 2018 @ 7:01pm
              Buddy said | July 6th 2018 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

              There appears to be a mix up between juniors playing local grassroots football and those playing anywhere where the term “elite” is banded about, ie development and train on squads and then the various levels of state league.

              At grassroots in Western Sydney it costs typically between $100 and $250 for a season if you shop around. you get some clubs charge weekly fees and some take a lump sum payment up front.
              Fees going straight out range in juniors from $60-$90 that pays association, FNSW and FFA and includes the paltry $4.39 for accident support. The rest goes to the club to pay ground hire, utilities, maintenance and to stock the club with kit etc. A typical season including pre season is around 18-20 games.
              If you play what is most commonly called rep football the fees are a law unto their own ranging from about $1500 to $3000 for a season and they include all the points made here and on other feeds!

        • July 6th 2018 @ 2:01pm
          Kris said | July 6th 2018 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

          The flipside is next week posters on this forum will argue that we need more professional and qualified coaches, better facilities and more games into these kids. All that stuff costs money somewhere along the journey.

    • July 6th 2018 @ 8:33am
      AGO74 said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      Others may disagree but in terms of the additional $1.40 for kids to $14 per annum, i don’t see that as too significant an issue unless as a parent or individual you are truly hard up. I know some other codes are signicantly subsidising for kids rego’s etc but the FFA is not even close to being in a position to do that compared to AFL or NRL. This issue of $12.60 or $14 per child doesn’t seem to be affecting junior participation thankfully.

      I do have an issue with $300k per player for the World Cup. It seems very excessive (and sorry Mike but any perceived junket cost by FFA is a drop in the hat when compared to the $7m total quoted for 23 players x $300k). Specifically what proportion is going to to the player – and what proportion is going to the support network of coaching, management, facilities etc.

      I’d be interested to see this split but on face value it seems as though far too much money is going to the players for what is essentially the pinnacle of their career. Not saying they should be playing for free either – but to come out of the World Cup at break even as noted is disappointing.

      I do agree that there needs to be an overhaul in FFA governance. That said I agree with the decision not to to consider Tasmania further for A-league expansion. I love the place and have been visiting regularly for the last 10 years with work and feel that I’ve got to know the state quite well – but it’s just not a football state. I could virtually guarantee it would be like the ill fated NQ Fury. Lots of good intentions etc but just not the groundswell of support to sustain it long term.

      Interesting times ahead for football in this country.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 10:11am
        Kris said | July 6th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        Considering how many bids they let go to the next stage, and how few they excluded, the Tasmanian bid must have been written in crayon on napkins.

        • Roar Guru

          July 6th 2018 @ 11:02am
          Chris Kettlewell said | July 6th 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

          I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but it’s hard to see Tasmania really being able to support a team. It’s a bit bogus really to suggest it’s a “Tasmania” bid. It would really end up being a Hobart team. Tassie isn’t that big, but people aren’t going to travel from other parts of the state to go to games on a regular basis, and I don’t think a team having multiple home grounds in different parts of the state works. So really we are talking a Hobart team.

          Currently the smallest market in the A-League is the Central Coast. And they continually struggle being in such a small market. Yet the central coast has a population that’s 50% greater than Hobarts population.

          So unless they can somehow turn Tassie from being an Aussie Rules mad state to being a (real) football mad-state that will just turn out in droves to support the team, then it’s hard to see it as really viable in the current A-League.

      • July 6th 2018 @ 5:26pm
        Simoc said | July 6th 2018 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

        The guys are on a big junket in Russia. For them all, admin etc this is as good as it gets in your football life.
        Leave all the whiners behind and live it up.
        I don’t know that Gallop is paid $2m but it’s way to much if he is.

        However why would you knock it back if offered that much. You just need a thick skin.

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