FFA Cup returns to put local clubs back in the spotlight

The sixth edition of the FFA Cup will again showcase some of the best talents from around Australia’s National Premier Leagues.

NPL sides have had to make it through their state’s preliminary rounds of qualifying, with those successful sides set to begin their FFA Cup venture when Matchday 1 of the Round of 32 begins tonight (Wednesday July 24).

On an opening night dominated by NPL match ups and local ties, there will be plenty of sides able to make it past to the next round and eventually test themselves against one of the A-League clubs (excluding Western United).

The FFA Cup will continue to reward NPL sides for every goal they score and allow players to express themselves and make the next step in their career. Being on the big stage is a massive incentive for any local-level club or player with the opportunity to prove their worth.

The Magic of the Cup will be in full swing, with upsets once again a realistic possibility given A-League sides are only in their pre-season.

It could even be the first year in the FFA Cup’s history that an NPL team will go all the way to the Grand Final – a moment to remember when it first transpires.

Fans will have a variety of ways to view this year’s FFA Cup if they’re unable to attend the game. All games can be found on Fox Sports, Kayo, the My Football app or via a stream from Fox Sports’ website.

Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Football in Bendigo heading in the right direction

On March 23-24, 2024, it was an occasion of importance for the tight knit community of Bendigo, especially for those who reside there with a footballing appreciation.

In an attempt to create a football scene amongst more regional areas across the state, Football Victoria (FV) spearheads a major youth event at Bendigo’s hub of football – Epsom Huntly Recreational Reserve.

The event, known as ‘Boys & Girls FC’, has become one of the FV’s major community events in recent years. It provides the opportunity for clubs located within the Bendigo region to participate against one another, and renowned clubs from Melbourne’s inner regions before their respective upcoming seasons. Over 1000 players took part in 140 fixtures in 2024’s instalment.

Dandenong City, Brighton Soccer Club, Eltham Redbacks and Watsonia Heights are just a few notable Melbournian teams that made the trip out to Bendigo to be involved. The event debuted in 2019 before returning in 2021 with the event in 2020 being cancelled due to Covid-19.

This allows all age groups involved to have the chance of playing in pre-season tournaments in order to remove the cobwebs – perhaps placed over the summer off-season – while rekindling chemistry with teammates and coaches of the season prior.

The event has a festival-like atmosphere. Entertainment, football, family activities and food variety are all on offer, enticing current or potentially new families to seek the opportunity of participating in the global code of football.

The City of Greater Bendigo has remained a partner of Football Victoria for this event, in what can be analysed as an attempt to create and foster a football appreciation amongst the country town.

So far, the region and those surrounding all participate in the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League, comprising 15 clubs across six towns.

An event dedicated to the grassroots of the game can only benefit any newly found support for the sport in these outer regions of Melbourne – especially towards Western United territory we will watch this space.

A-Leagues secure last minute NEP deal for production partner

The A-Leagues have had an interesting past week, to say the least – as the league’s production partner for live broadcasts, Global Advance, was placed into voluntary administration.

This past weekend, the league managed to secure a last minute deal with international broadcasting and media services group NEP who will cover the remainder of the 2024 season.

The league just got the deal done in time, hours before Central Coast Mariners played Western United in an A-League Women clash and they were able to avoid an embarrassing Easter Thursday blackout.

The A-Leagues currently are understood to pay $12 million to Global Advance for production of all men’s and women’s games, the league is hoping to recuperate close to $1 million from Global Advance but it may be difficult.

Global Advance was established in 2020, its first major partner was the A-Leagues following the competitions’ split from long-term broadcaster Fox Sports.

Until they were placed onto voluntary administration, they had broadcasted every Men’s and Women’s match on Network Ten and its streaming partner Paramount.

The APL released a damning statement last Wednesday night that outlined the lack of communication from Global Advance regarding their financial situation.

“We are disappointed in the manner in which this has come to our attention, and the risk this has placed on our fan, player, club, broadcast and commercial commitments,” the APL said in a statement.

“We have been let down and will be working with the administrators to recoup monies owing to APL.

“Through a lot of hard work by a new production company, Ten-Paramount, and our team, we are close to finalising an agreement and are confident all matches will be broadcast, starting tomorrow.

“There are many challenges that such a short timeframe presents, but we are working through this urgently with all of our stakeholders, and we thank the production company for their co-operation, flexibility and expertise at such short notice.”

However, Said Jahani of Global Advance’s administrators Grant Thornton reiterated that there was immediate contact with the A-Leagues.

“We have immediately commenced a dialogue with the Australian Professional Leagues at the most senior levels to determine whether television coverage for all A-League men’s and women’s games this weekend can continue to be provided. he said in a statement

“At this stage, it remains uncertain as to whether this will be possible.”

It hasn’t quite been all smooth sailing to kick off the NEP era of broadcasting, with the cameraman being the butt of all jokes online after showing his phone notes to direct a message towards his director in the huge game between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory in the Liberty A-League that had title implications for the Sky Blues.

It will be interesting to see how the APL can salvage this streaming mishap and produce some quality broadcasts as the finals approach for both competitions.

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