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Australian football hits the broadcast market: Where will the rights land?

Crunch time is fast approaching for Football Australia and the APL, with new broadcast deals set to be struck independently in the coming weeks.

Football Australia have regained the broadcast rights to all Socceroos and Matildas internationals, Asian Cup qualifiers and World Cup qualifiers according to the SMH, and are now looking to on-sell to broadcasters.

“There are a lot of national team games because of the backlog of the calendar in the lead-up to Qatar 2022 and Australia and New Zealand 2023. We will go to market with even more national team games than what we have had in the past and I think that is a very attractive market in this competitive environment that we have in broadcast today,” FFA CEO James Johnson told SMH.

The APL are also in the process of negotiating a new TV deal for the A-League and W-League which will look to secure the future of the professional game in Australia.

Whilst there will likely be a free-to-air component for each deal, here are the companies that may stump up the majority of the cash:

Stan Sport

Stan Sport are a relative newcomer to the sport media rights landscape in Australia. They recently secured the rights to showcase Super Rugby matches on their platform, with Rugby Australia also signing a free-to-air deal with Channel Nine, who are owners of the streaming service.

A similar type of deal may be attractive to the APL or Football Australia, as Channel Nine also owns major newspapers across the country such as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

A positive media narrative is something the game is crying out for after years of negativity, and a partnership with Stan and Channel Nine should guarantee an increase in media visibility for Australian Football across a range of channels.

Stan is interested, with a need to add to their low portfolio of sport at the moment, as they look to continue to build up their Stan Sport add-on service.

Fox Sports/Kayo

Fox Sports have had the broadcast rights for the A-League since the competition’s inception and shown some of the Socceroos’ and Matildas’ biggest moments over the past 15 years.

Their current on-air talent includes the likes of Mark Bosnich, Archie Thompson, Robbie Slater and Robbie Cornthwaite.

Fox also has the Australian rights to the Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga, English Championship and more across their platforms.

Over the past few years Fox have been disappointed with the linear TV ratings of the A-League and have axed magazine shows,  as well as holding back on overall production values for their broadcasts.

Despite this, the company is still interested in brokering a new deal, but there are question marks around their coverage.

Constant technical issues have plagued the broadcast of W-League games this season on Fox and they continue to focus the majority of their energy and investment around NRL, AFL and Cricket.

Optus Sport

As of February 2021, Optus Sport had 868,000 subscribers to their service.

The streaming platform currently have the Australian rights to the English Premier League, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, FA Women’s Super League, J League, Euro 2021, Copa America 2021, J League and more.

Current on-air talent includes the likes of John Aloisi, Michael Bridges, Mark Schwarzer and Kevin Muscat.

The company have produced a range of different programs that go along with their high-quality production of pre-and post-game shows for the UEFA Champions League and English Premier League. This includes the Football Belongs podcast and Women’s Football Oz Style.

Optus Sport are well within its rights to say they are the home of football in Australia; however, the addition of A-League/W-League and Socceroos/Matildas content rights will leave no doubt.

Sports Flick

The Sydney based start-up streaming service have a range of unique content on their platform including the rights to the UEFA Women’s Champions League and the K-League. They have reportedly done a deal that has seen them grab the UEFA Champions League rights off Optus Sport from next season.

Will they look to Australian football properties for more content?

Others: DAZN, Amazon

Let us know where you want to see the rights end up, join the conversation on Twitter @Soccersceneau.

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.

Carlos Salvachúa: “Playing without promotion and relegation is a big problem”

Carlos Salvachúa was Victory assistant coach under Kevin Muscat, before taking over as caretaker manager. He has coached professionally in Spain and Belgium, including six years at the Real Madrid academy, overseeing the development of the club’s rising stars.

He spoke to Soccerscene from Spain about his impressions of the A-League, where it could be improved, and how Australian youth need to play more football to reach their potential.

What were your first impressions of the A-League?

Salvachúa: Sometimes the big issue is knowing if it’s a professional league or not – and definitely the A-League was professional. I’m talking about games, organisation, talking about flights or hotels, and training. I was lucky to arrive to Melbourne Victory – one of the biggest clubs there is – and everything in the club was like in Europe and in Spain. Good facilities, good organisation, and a lots of staff in the office. For me the first impression was really professional.

What was the level of professionalism like compared to other leagues you have coached in?

Salvachúa: Belgium is a hard competition. I’m talking about the games, not about organisation – it’s similar to the A-League or in Spain in the La Liga. The competition is tough in Belgium if we compare the level of the players, the games and the competition.

After leaving Melbourne Victory, Salvachúa was Muscat’s assistant coach at Sint-Truidense V.V. in Belgium.

What were the biggest challenges you faced while coaching in Australia?

Salvachúa: One of the biggest for me was the distance to play a game. It was funny because here with Atlético versus Real Madrid they travel 15 minutes to go to sleep at home, and for Victory we spend three days away to play a game, for me this was really hard. In the Champions League we spent five days away to play a game in China or in Japan. For me and and European players as well this was hard, because it was not easy. I remember the long pre-season because the schedule of FFA Cup was really hard for us. We trained two to three months before the first game in the A-League, just to play one round in the FFA Cup.

How do you think the league could be improved?

Salvachúa: For me, playing without promotion and relegation, is a problem, a big one in my opinion for the league. You need to improve the league from the basement – you cannot start the building of the house from the roof, you must start building the house from the ground up. I’m talking about the NPL. They are tough competitions, and you need to give promotion to the A-League, and I think that the competition will be better with this system like in Europe. I think a competition without promotion and relegation is only working with the MLS in USA. In Australia I think that it would be great to create another kind of competition to improve the league.

Another thing for me that is one of the biggest issues was that sometimes the players were receptive – they are professionals about training and have a good attitude to learn, but for me as a coach sometimes the players don’t know how important it is to win – compared to a draw or a loss. Without promotion and relegation, in some games as a coach, in the second half the players don’t understand how important it is to get a win over one point. I think that is probably one of the solutions to change the model of the competition.

How would you rate the level of young talent being developed in Australia?

Salvachúa: Like in other countries, you have good players with talent at 14, 15, and 16 years of age, but in my opinion they need more games. Some players arrive to A-League at 19 years old – playing 18 to 25 games – and it’s not easiest time for the coaches to start these young players in the first 11. If they are not playing every Sunday, they need another tough competition. You need competitive games with a second team like here in Spain or with the under 18s or under 19s – it depends. I think that they need more games here. A 14 or 15 year old kid normally finishes the competition in Spain with 45 official games. 45 games is more than the professionals in the A-League. I think one of the big issues is they do not have enough games and training sessions to develop the players. But the talent is there like in other countries.

National Futsal Championships to return in 2022

Football Australia has announced today the return of the National Futsal Championships (NFC) in 2022.

Football Queensland (FQ) will host the 2022 championship, followed by Football Victoria (FV) for the 2023 edition.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson looks forward to growing futsal’s footprint in Australia after outlining a vision for a national program.

“As part of our clear strategic agenda, we outlined a vision to create a national program for futsal and beach soccer by working closely with our Member Federations in a unified, inclusive and collaborative manner,” Johnson said.

“With the culmination of this process, we are delighted that Football Queensland and Football Victoria will be hosting the National Futsal Championships in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

“There is a clear appetite throughout Australia for football to increase its imprint through futsal and beach soccer. Queensland and Victoria now have the opportunity to showcase this and bring it to life over the next two years, in a way never seen before.”

By granting the hosting rights to different cities, Football Australia believes the NFC will be a national tournament.

The Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre will host the relaunched tournament on the 5th-9th of January 2022.

“The National Futsal Championships are a highlight of the Australian football calendar, and we are excited to stage next year’s event at the state-of-the-art Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre,” FQ CEO Robert Cavallucci said.

Anthony Grima, Football Victoria’s Head of Futsal, believes the announcement was a step towards achieving FV’s futsal strategy.

“This is a huge win for Futsal in Victoria and one for me that should be dedicated to the many amazing individuals who are at the heart of the Futsal community here in Victoria,” Grima said.

“Hosting the NFC will leave a lasting legacy for Futsal and football in Victoria and inspire and enable more people to take up this amazing sport.”

The recently announced Home of the Matildas features a international sized futsal pitch, and it could host the championship.

Kimon Taliadoros, CEO of FV, said this news ensures that Victoria remains the home of sport.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for the people of Victoria. By hosting the National Futsal Championships, we will further enhance the state’s ability to host events and tournaments and support the Victorian economy by bringing interstate visitors back to Melbourne to experience the wide range of products, services and experiences that this great state has to offer,” Taliadoros said.

“Futsal has been on the national agenda for some time now, with Football Australia recently having released the ‘XI Principles – for the future of Australian football.’”

The return of the NFC will allow a pathway for players to compete against the best talent Australia has to offer.

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