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.”