The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement

A-Leagues confirm brutal staff purge as game's bold $40m vision goes up in smoke

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Replay
Cancel
Next
16th January, 2024
303
3878 Reads

The A-League has been hit by mass redundancies, with reports that up to half of the organisation’s staff are losing their jobs and the digital and content arm KeepUp is being axed.

The Australian Professional Leagues has confirmed an “organisational restructure”. The Sydney Morning Herald reported around half of “80-odd” staff would be losing their job in the immediate short term.

The APL has run the A-League men’s and women’s competitions for the past three years. It confirmed the cuts including a decision to bring an end to KeepUp, the much maligned news and information app that cost the organisation an estimated $40m and was the brainchild of former APL boss Danny Townsend.

Townsend left the organisation last year with the head of KeepUp James Rushton promoted to help run the competitions.

“In the three years since unbundling (with Football Australia), APL has implemented a strategy that has seen a period of rapid growth across our business,” an APL statement, without a name attributed, said on Tuesday.

“With the original three-year strategy coming to an end, a planned full strategic and commercial review has taken place over the last several months.

“The review has identified significant opportunities to create efficiencies through consolidation and this necessitates an organisational restructure that is now underway.

“APL’s priorities remain the same – to deliver commercial growth and sustainability by creating the most exciting competitions possible for our fans – with strong teams producing great young players across Australia and New Zealand.”

Advertisement
Danny Townsend speaks during a Sydney FC media opportunity

Danny Townsend (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

The news came on the same day the APL Commissioner Nick Garcia said Canberra was closing in on the next expansion spot as the league moves to 14 teams.

Garcia is adamant Canberra will have a men’s club for the start of next season, despite concerns the franchise is leaving it late to get up and running in time for 2024/25.

Canberra and Auckland were flagged as the two preferred expansion locations by the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) last year, with American billionaire Bill Foley winning the licence to run the New Zealand-based club.

Foley has since wasted no time in appointing ex-City Group staffer Nick Becker as chief executive of his Auckland outfit, and installing former Sydney FC boss Steve Corica as the club’s head coach.

But Canberra’s future is still clouded by uncertainty.

There have been suggestions Tasmanian expansion could supplant moves to put a team in the national capital, while Canberra United A-League Women boss Njegosh Popovich last week said his players were in the dark over their futures.

Advertisement

Garcia, however, remains confident a deal could be finalised in the coming weeks.

“I’m very positive about Canberra right now,” Garcia said.

“We’re in advanced discussions with a party for Canberra.”

The owners of the Canberra men’s side are expected to take over the running of the women’s club, which is currently administered by the ACT’s governing body for the sport, Capital Football.

Popovich’s concerns over players’ futures highlight a reality for the ALM franchise, with many existing clubs and the new Auckland side set to begin negotiations with off-contract players in the coming months.

But Garcia points to Canberra’s existing infrastructure as proof the new franchise would not be left behind in the transfer market.

“It’s important to understand that Canberra has a women’s team already, it’s not a cold start,” Garcia said.

Advertisement

“There’s a women’s team, there’s structure around the club, there’s a brand. A lot of that’s stood up.

“You’re adding a men’s team – it’s not like Auckland.

“The other thing is because there’s definitely been other bids for an A-League licence out of Canberra, so much work and public support has already been done.

“So they’ll move really fast when they’re in.”

While Canberra’s future is yet to be finalised, Garcia hinted that deals for Perth Glory, who are in receivership, and Newcastle Jets – who have been propped up by rival clubs for the best part of four years – are nearing completion.

That news will be particularly welcomed by Glory boss Alen Stajcic, who last week lashed out at the APL for not allowing him to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window.

Advertisement

The first casualty of the uncertainty surrounding Perth was midfielder Oli Bozanic, who announced on Monday his loan deal with the club would not be extended as a result of Glory’s financial predicament.

“On Newcastle, they are in advanced stages of negotiations,” Garcia said, adding that Perth’s receivers KordaMentha are “in negotiations, which we expect to conclude quite soon.

“They have a timeline that is very aggressive.”

close