Community in Business panel gives its verdict on the Women’s World Cup

Football Victoria Community in Business

At Football Victoria’s Community in Business Half-Time Luncheon, Michael Zappone sat down with three panel members to discuss the upcoming Women’s World Cup, as he shared a discussion with Matilda cap #204 Karly Roestbakken, Young Matilda Paige Zois and Channel 7 commentator David Basheer.

The line-up of players in the Matildas’ squad boasts a dynamic blend of youth and experience and is selected from across Australia, representing seven different Member Federations.   

The team will be led by forward Sam Kerr as captain in her fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup, and defender Steph Catley as vice-captain in her third appearance at the prestigious quadrennial tournament.

Lydia Williams and Clare Polkinghorne, revered figures in Australian football, have earned the distinction of being the only male or female Australian players to participate in five FIFA World Cup finals tournaments. Their inclusion in the squad is a testament to their immense skill, dedication, and enduring legacy. 

CommBank Matildas’ head coach Tony Gustavsson said the team are looking forward to sharing the FIFA Women’s World Cup experience with the nation. While he has selected 15 players who were part of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign and with seven players in line to make their FIFA Women’s World Cup debuts.   

With all panel members stating the significance of the event, Basheer offered: “I think it’s going to be transformational for Australian soccer because the game grows every four year cycle, if things go right we could see a really special performance from the Matildas.”

The Matildas may have their best ever chance at lifting the world cup trophy, with the panel members all predicting Australia to win the tournament. Roestbakken discussed the confidence the team has, especially playing on home soil making it a special place to play and a motivational boost.

“In all four previous world cups I’ve covered, this is the deepest squad Australia has ever had” Basheer said after backing up everyone’s prediction of Australia winning the tournament.

After being prompted ‘what do you think this will do for women’s football in Australia’, Zois offered: “It’s a rare thing to have a world cup in your backyard, football has already come a long way and this world cup is an opportunity to further grow the profile of the sport in Australia and I’m excited to see the impact this has on the legacy we are all contributing to.”

Basheer added that the game has evolved heavily in the last 10 years, noting the Ireland women’s national team – who are a competitor of the Matildas recently – recorded their highest ever crowd of 7,000, while the Matildas will soon play in front of 50,000 against France at Marvel Stadium. The numbers speak for themselves as the Matildas are building momentum heading into the tournament.

However, Zappone suggested the public aren’t aware of how big of a deal this is for the country. 

Basheer highlighted the Socceroos’ success and the country heavily supporting them during their World Cup performance and suggests the same will happen with the Matildas. He spoke on the growth of the game but suggested the women’s game has evolved almost too quickly and suggests the squad size should be 26 players so the game ‘hasn’t got that right’.

Women’s football as a whole will be positively impacted by the tournament and the excitement it will create amongst football fans.

“There’s a commercial market, it is a big sport waiting to show its face,” Basheer explained on the growth of the game.

The Matildas’ opening match of the World Cup will take place on July 20 when they take on the Republic of Ireland on the opening day of the tournament.

Premier League continues talks on cost control and EFL funding

Premier League club bosses are holding further talks regarding cost control measures for clubs competing in European football and additional funding for the EFL.

The top flight is examining the introduction of a model along similar lines to UEFA’s squad cost ratio, which by 2025-26 will cap the spending of clubs involved in European competitions on wages, transfer fees and agent costs at 70 per cent of revenue.

It is understood that clubs in the Premier League not competing in European competitions will be allowed more leeway on spending, with a ratio of around 85 per cent of revenue having been discussed. This is potentially to ensure a more level playing field for mid table Premier League clubs who are struggling to break that barrier.

There is a major roadblock, however, in these talks with relegated Premier League clubs still earning parachute payments in their first season back in the Championship and being able to continue working to the 85 per cent ratio whilst the bottom half Championship clubs are working on a much tighter budget, closer to the 70 per cent UEFA mark.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters spoke about these talks advancing and what it means for the future of both leagues.

“We have some proposals out for consultation with our clubs about moving and aligning more with the UEFA system,” Masters said at the Culture, Media and Sport committee.

“Some of the issues that are still at debate between the EFL and the Premier League and internally within the Premier League itself are about trying to find a resolution on exactly how the financial regulatory system will work in the future.

“There’s an area of disagreement between us on how cost controls are going to work. Because obviously if you’re going to put more money into a system, that system has to be properly regulated. That system has yet to be fully agreed on how Championship clubs, how relegated clubs and how Premier League clubs operate a common system.” he concluded.

In terms of the extra funding agreement being discussed, EFL Chairman Rick Parry announced that his competition was prepared to accept an amount that would equate to 14.75 per cent of the two competitions’ net media revenues, which he said worked out at an extra £125million ($240 million) a year.

Whilst this is a huge positive for the footballing ladder in England, there is still a debate amongst clubs and representatives over how the extra funding to the EFL should be paid out.

Recently relegated sides are already working on a bigger budget, whilst sides in the bottom half are struggling to pay player wages with this disparity being completely unacceptable.

So it definitely begs the question, does majority of the extra £125million ($240 million) a year go towards helping bottom clubs compete in the long term? or would that be a stain on the league’s integrity and fair play values?

Votes were not casted in last week’s meetings regarding cost control measures or extra funding, but reports suggest that a conclusion is being made swiftly with both parties eager to agree on a fair deal.

MLS NEXT Pro continues to expand with Connecticut United addition

Connecticut United FC joins MLS Next Pro

Connecticut (CT) United FC will join the ever-growing MLS NEXT Pro League in 2025, in a move that promises to reinvigorate the US state through investment in football infrastructure.

CT United becomes the fifth independent team to join US football’s third-tier national competition, which serves as a valuable development tool for young players at the 27 existing Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs.

It joins teams from Jacksonville, Florida and Chattanooga – who were recently announced by the MLS NEXT organisation.

Chattanooga FC have been competing at state-level for 15 years, allowing it to join the competition in 2024 alongside fellow independent club, Carolina Core FC.

Jacksonville Armada are expected to enter alongside CT United and a team from Cleveland, Ohio, in 2025.

The nucleus of CT United’s football operation will be based in Connecticut’s capital city, Bridgeport, after its Planning and Zoning Commission approved a project for a waterfront football-specific stadium.

The stadia will be a part of a larger infrastructure plan to create a mixed-use destination for retail, residential, and community zones. Bridgeport’s Mayor, Joseph Ganim, says the city is ready to drive the project.

“Bridgeport is in the midst of a renaissance, rebranding from an industrial city to now the capital of arts and entertainment of Connecticut,” he said via media release.

“I am proud to announce that MLS NEXT Pro will join that landscape in providing entertainment opportunities for Bridgeport residents and the region at large.”

The club’s formation represents the first foray into sports ownership for the Connecticut Sports Group (CTSG), an organisation founded and led by Connecticut local and technology entrepreneur, André Swanston.

Though in its infant stages, the organisation relies primarily upon its partnership with the University of Connecticut, and minor investors within the state.

Swanston, 42, becomes not just one of the youngest principal owners of a football club in the country, but also making a difference as one of the few Black sports owners in US sport overall.

“As CT United FC embarks on its MLS NEXT Pro journey, I want to extend deep gratitude to the incredible fans, community leaders and government officials who have embraced our vision – I am confident that, united, Connecticut can compete against anyone,” he proclaimed via press release.

“We are committed to building the infrastructure – from a free youth academy to a state-of-the-art stadium – needed to propel Connecticut to the highest levels of soccer.”

The formation of CT United represents an exciting prospect for the people of Connecticut, who will be eager to see CTSG deliver on its vision to ‘create unforgettable experiences that inspire communities.’

It also showcases Major League Soccer’s continuing expansion, and intent to re-invigorate communities across North America.

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