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FFA chief admits he can't say if all A-League clubs will survive

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30th April, 2020
22

FFA chief executive James Johnson has admitted it’s too early to say if all 11 existing A-League clubs will survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson is refusing to follow the lead of the NRL by laying down a set date for the league’s resumption, explaining it remains too unclear just when restrictions will start to be eased to lay down a firm plan.

Despite the uncertainty, Johnson remains committed to completing the 2019-20 season and believes should the league resume within a couple of months the clubs will overcome the financial impact of the crisis.

“Do I think that all the clubs will make it through? I think that’s too early to say at the moment,” Johnson told AAP.

“But I am confident that the league will start again soon so naturally the clubs should be able to get through. All clubs should be able to get through.”

Johnson announced the league’s postponement on March 23.

Since then seven of the 11 clubs have stood down players and staff due to a lack of revenue.

Sydney FC, one of those yet to take such action, revealed earlier this week they may have to alter their position if the league cannot resume soon.

Macarthur FC’s position also remains unclear with the expansion club expected to join the league in 2020-21.

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Every A-League club has applied for the federal government’s JobKeeper relief package, a measure which Johnson says will buy some time until a return to on-field action.

“It’s not enough but it is something, and it is something that is good for the clubs … but it’s also good for the players and staff as well,” he said.

Resuming the league would take an alteration in several factors, Johnson said, though he believed the current campaign could be wrapped up inside two months once it gets the green light.

“Player health and safety and then the logistical issues with state and federal border restrictions need to be softened so that we’re able to get the sport going,” he said.

“These are really the primary issues for us, as soon as they can be resolved we’ll be back on the pitch.

“I’m confident that we’ll finish the season. 

“There are two issues, one is the player contracts but that requires negotiation with the players and the other is the starting date of next season.

“We’ve still got quite a long window between now and then in which to complete a season which could take less than two months.”

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Johnson also confirmed adopting an isolation hub option, as has been mooted by the AFL, was one of the options being discussed.

The future of the $57-million-a-year broadcast deal with Fox Sports has been an ongoing discussion for the pay-TV organisation and the FFA.

Johnson was preferring to take an optimistic stance on the broadcast arrangements despite reports Fox are attempting to use the shutdown to walk out on the deal.

“We have a contract with Fox for the next three years and Fox has been helpful through this process,” he said.

“They’ve been a key partner of ours for the past 15 years so as it stands and where the discussions are right now, we’re really focused on ways in which we can get this current season up and running.

“How we do it? Where we do it? When we do it? They’re the key questions that we’re working through with Fox at the moment.”

© AAP