Domestic professional football will be played into the winter months next year after FFA secured a revised broadcast deal for the A-League with Fox Sports.
The 12-month agreement will mean the pay TV network’s relationship with Australian football will extend until at least July 2021.
Under the deal, Fox will broadcast the remainder of the 2019-20 A-League season and the 2020-21 campaign.
It means the planned resumption of the current A-League campaign on July 16 can go ahead as planned.
The 2020-21 campaign will now kick off in December and conclude in July next year.
It means for the first time since 1989, domestic professional football will be played in Australia in winter.
FFA chief executive James Johnson hinted the move may be longer term than just for the new broadcast agreement.
“The shift in the timing of the next A-League season is a strategic decision to enhance the alignment of our top tier professional men’s league with the grassroots playing season,” he said.
“There are numerous benefits to this, including better aligning the competition pyramid of Australian football to facilitate enhanced football outcomes like a modern domestic transfer system, and enabling deeper engagement with our vast grassroots football community at the precise time our many participants are most engaged in our great game.
“Despite challenging times, this deal will help us continue the process of transforming our professional leagues and move the sport towards an exciting future.”
The FFA and Fox had been at loggerheads ever since the league was suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis in March.
It is understood the new deal is a $32 million contract, significantly less than the $57 million-a-year Fox was paying as part of its previous six-year deal which was set to run until 2023.
That deal is now dead in the water and the FFA will have to use the next 12 months to either negotiate a new contract with Fox or find another broadcast partner.
“This new deal also provides us with the opportunity to work with FFA over the next year as they reset and re-energise the professional game in Australia and explore the best possible range of future broadcast options for the game,” Fox Sports head Peter Campbell said.
As well as the A-League and W-League, the new deal also includes the final four Socceroos World Cup qualifiers in their Asian Round 2 group and any Socceroos or Matildas friendlies scheduled between now and the end of July 2021.
It does not include the FFA Cup, which may be broadcast in-house by the FFA and clubs via an online streaming platform.
“We are excited for the future of the FFA Cup and will make further announcements about its future direction in due course,” Johnson said.
ABC TV will continue to broadcast one A-League and one W-League match per week until the end of July 2021 as well as FFA-controlled Socceroos and Matildas matches.