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A-League, W-League and Y-League to be unbundled from Football Australia

Football Australia and the newly formed Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have announced that terms have been agreed to ‘unbundle’ the A-League, W-League and Y-League from Football Australia.

The unbundling of the leagues from the head governing body of the sport will bring the Australian football structure in line with global standards, separating Football Australia as the regulatory body from the operation of the professional leagues.

The APL will take over the commercial, marketing and operational practices of the professional leagues, as well as all revenue generation responsibilities.

APL will also retain the exclusive right to use the intellectual property rights associated with the E-League.

Football Australia will still retain some regulatory functions of the professional leagues, including matters relating to on-and-off-field disciplinary and integrity matters, the transfer system, the registrations of clubs, players and officials, as well as the domestic match calendar.

Alongside this, new club licensing framework for the professional leagues and control over access to the leagues (whether that is through expansion, promotion/relegation or contraction), the AFC Champions League, FFA Cup and all other domestic and international competitions will also fall under the regulatory functions of Football Australia.

The new model will be implemented through the course of the 2020/21 A-League and W-League football seasons.

Greg O’Rourke will serve as commissioner of the professional leagues for APL.

O’Rourke will report to an APL board consisting of five club directors, one member representing Football Australia and three independent directors, with one of them to be elected chair of the organisation.

James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia, said of the developments: “The unbundling of the professional leagues from Football Australia is a key milestone in the ongoing transformation of Australian football and fulfils our commitment outlined in Principle VIII of our XI Principles. It represents the culmination of a process, which ramped up following the completion of the A-League 2019/20 season, that ebbed and flowed over the course of what has been a difficult 2020.

“The new model respects the fundamental aspects of the global football pyramid and highlights the importance of strong governance principles as Football Australia retains its regulatory functions in respect of the A-League, Westfield W-League and Y-League and the APL takes control over the operational and commercial direction of the leagues, in turn triggering the ability for significant new investment in the quality and marketing of the leagues. Each constituent now has defined roles and responsibilities and the ability to make the right contribution to the growth of the professional game.

“We have been able to create a unique model which draws upon global best practice whilst allowing for local specificities. Significantly, the model establishes a framework for a strong partnership between Football Australia and the APL which recognises the value of a thriving domestic professional league to the ongoing growth of the game in Australia.” 

Paul Lederer, Chairman of APL, said: “This is an historic moment for the future of football in Australia – for the fan, for the player, for the whole game.

“It’s now time to earn and deliver the future our game deserves.

 “The handbrake on the game is off; owners can finally invest in what they own and create value for the entire footballing ecosystem.

 “Players can plan their careers in Australian football, fans can reconnect with the game that they love, and clubs can create meaningful moments for the whole Australian football family.”

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Regional NSW gets boost ahead of 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

A NSW Government funded talent identification and youth development program over the next three years will help young girls who aspire to play for the Matildas.

This morning, Deputy Premier John Barilaro launched the program in Albury and explained how an investment of $750,000 will ensure players from Regional NSW have the opportunity to showcase their skills, leading up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.

“Regional NSW is home to some of the most talented athletes in the country and has a rich history of producing Matildas with more than half of the National team coming from our State’s regions over the past forty years,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This investment from the NSW Government will ensure the next generation of girls and young women in regional NSW have the same level of access to coaching and support as their peers in the city as they strive to represent Australia on the world stage.”

It is designed for girls aged 12 to 18 years old, with funding to support the establishment of training hubs across the state and identifying talented young players will be further supported through the provision of training camps and player support scholarships – the added bonus is potentially being tutored by current and former Matildas.

Acting Minister for Sport Geoff Lee said the NSW Government is committed to ensuring a lasting legacy from hosting FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 matches.

“We are witnessing an exciting new era in Australian women’s football and this investment will create successful pathways for aspiring girls in Regional NSW who dream of wearing the green and gold,” Mr Lee said.

“With current and former Matildas stars including Ellie Carpenter, Sally Shipard and Amy Chapman all growing up in regional NSW, this program will establish a pathway for aspiring Matildas in their local communities.”

Football NSW Chief Executive, Stuart Hodge, was there for today’s launch, as was 110 cap Matilda, Joey Peters hailing from Leeton in the Riverina, as well as football representatives including young talented players from the Albury-Wodonga Football Association.

Hodge believes the NSW Government’s investment has created a once in a generation opportunity for upcoming female athletes.

“Hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will inspire the next generation of Matildas and with the support of the NSW Government, together with Football Australia and Northern NSW Football, we are committed to providing the best training and development opportunities for our female athletes across regional NSW,” Mr Hodge said.

Chief Executive of Northern NSW Football, David Eland was also pleased with the announcement.

“The support provided by the NSW Government is invaluable and will assist NNSWF to provide the most talented female footballers in our region with access to programs, services, coaching and competitive opportunities required to fulfil their potential and aspirations to represent their Country.”

Former Matilda and Westfield W-League player Ashleigh Sykes, with 19 caps for the national team, who together with her twin sister Nicole grew up in Dubbo, enthusiastically supported today’s announcement.

“Growing up in Western NSW, sometimes it was easy to feel forgotten and isolated, like you’re not being seen as often as some of the city kids,” she said.

“I was lucky enough to benefit from people sticking together and supporting each other, from small group sessions to dedicated and loving coaches, to men’s teams providing a competitive training environment.

“For us, when the opportunity came up, moving to a city like Sydney or Canberra was a big decision at the age of 16 years.

“We made the choice to stay at home to finish school but then had to do lots of travelling to development camps. What this new program is offering will provide young girls aspiring to play for the country with enhanced opportunities which I think is fantastic and I am excited to be involved.”

Football Queensland’s Club Support Hub to assist Play Football campaign

Football Queensland has launched their new Club Support Hub, alongside the 2021 Play Football registration campaign.

“In the Strategic Plan, FQ committed to improving the support of our clubs and volunteers throughout the state,” Football Queensland CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

“That is why we have developed the Club Support Hub, which provides a single destination for Queensland clubs to easily access marketing guides, retention and recruitment strategies, graphic design assistance, and promotional material for coach and referee courses.

“It builds on FQ’s other recent club support initiatives including the expanding Facilities Hub and the creation of the Club Development Unit.

“The launch of the Club Support Hub has been timed to coincide with the Play Football campaign as FQ leads a targeted digital strategy in Queensland, with localised messaging in each region and a central focus on the retention and recruitment of women and girls, and referees.

“By supporting and building capacity within clubs at the same time, we can align our efforts and ensure the football community is united in growing the game.

“The national ‘Join Our Team’ tagline supports this collective approach to showcasing football as we constantly work on providing participation opportunities for all Queenslanders regardless of age, gender, location or background.”

Players, coaches, referees and volunteers are able to sign up for the new season via Play Football’s national registration portal.

The Club Support Hub can be accessed here.

Socceroos and Matildas secure innovative fan engagement product

Socceroos and Matildas fans will be able to integrate Australia’s national football teams further into their daily lives, after the release of customisable homepage browser extensions for both sides.

Fan engagement company brandTurbo are the masterminds behind the product, with the Socceroos and Matildas becoming the first national football teams in the world to offer such a service.

The browsers are available now via Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, offering supporters the opportunity to access the latest team news, updates, highlights and features each time they decide to open a new browser.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson highlighted the importance of offering football fans innovative ways to further connect with the Socceroos and Matildas.

“Principle XI of the XI Principles for the future of Australian football highlights Football Australia’s intent to further enhance the strong reputations of our national teams and transform them into uniquely iconic brands,” Johnson said. “Discovering and implementing fresh and increasingly innovative digital solutions to engage supporters and keep them connected with our national teams is an important part of that process.”

“2021 is set to be a significant year of activity for both squads, as the Socceroos resume FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying under Graham Arnold, and the Westfield Matildas commence an exciting era under Tony Gustavsson. By downloading and using the Socceroos and Westfield Matildas homepage extensions, fans can ensure that they don’t miss a moment of each team’s progress, while also having the capability to customise their backgrounds with an array of images that showcase why we love our teams so much.

“We are pleased that the Socceroos and Westfield Matildas will be the first national teams globally to feature on the brandTURBO service,” Johnson concluded.

Fans can download the official Socceroos browser extension here and the official Matildas browser extension here (both for Windows and Mac OS).

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