Football Coaches Australia upholds the need for fair pay and suitable employment conditions in coach survey report

FCA

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) – Australia’s national Association for supporting qualified coaches at professional, semi-professional and community levels – have today released a report outlining the importance of upholding fair pay and suitable conditions for coaches. The report coincides with the Australian Professional Leagues’ (APL) announcement of an expanded Liberty A-League season, and Football Australia’s (FA) recently published Domestic Match Calendar (DMC), for the period of October 7, 2022 to October 7, 2023.

The report comprises the results of two independent surveys conducted by FCA, during Season 2021-22, in partnership with The University of Queensland. The first – a National Premier Leagues (NPL) and A-Leagues (APL) coach survey – was conducted in October 2021, and the second – a Liberty A-League coach survey – was conducted in March 2022

The report can be read in full HERE.

Throughout FCA’s discussions with Australian football’s professional and semi-professional coaching cohort, it was made clear that many did not feel secure enough in their employment to negotiate contract terms, especially where there is not a Collective Agreement in place, which can lead to the potential exploitation of coaches, particularly in women’s football.

The release of the survey report aligns with FCA’s discussion with FA, and the APL, regarding the adoption of an A-Leagues coaches’ standard contract and a national grievance resolution process.

Consultation between FCA and the APL will be an ongoing process. A joint FCA and APL working group, comprising FCA Executive Committee members Phil Moss, Sarah West, Catherine Cannuli, Brad Crismale and Glenn Warry, and APL senior management Danny Townsend, Greg O’Rourke, Helena Dorczak and Emma Burrows, will undertake these discussions over the coming months.

Football Australia (FA) has previously committed to shifting cultural perceptions by focusing on women in leadership within their membership of ‘Male Champions of Change’. A key focus of the FA plan is ‘How do we define gender pay equity in football and what steps and commitment is required to close the gap?’. As Australian football moves towards the conclusion of the FA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan (2019-2023), FCA believes actions are now required to apply the gender equity framework for women coaches.

The Liberty A-League coaches believe that the expansion of the Liberty A-League makes the discussion around their employment conditions highly relevant. For many Liberty A-League coaches, their ability to sustain their coaching roles within their current portfolio football coaching careers, or in combination with their full-time jobs, is extremely difficult.

FCA has identified that there is an inequity regarding employment conditions, and what coaches are paid, in the A-League Women compared to A-League Men, and an inequity regarding what women coaches are paid. FCA believes the following will provide an excellent framework for all coaches – Men and Women:

  • A-League Standard Contracts/Grievance process.
  • Improved employment conditions and opportunities for coaches within the Liberty A-League.
  • Salary bands for Assistant coaches, Goalkeeping Coaches, Analysts.
  • Working with FA and APL to action the gender equity framework for women coaches within the FA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan (2019-2023).

At this stage FCA have not completed any research into the commercial viability and funding model for the ALW. FCA is keen to work with the APL and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) on this model.

Danny Townsend, Chief Executive Officer at the APL, stated:

“At the APL we are committed to creating and maintaining the highest standards and conditions for players and coaches in professional football. The FCA Coach Surveys Report has produced important findings that the game needs to address and we welcome the chance to work with FCA and other important stakeholders in the football pyramid to tackle them collectively.

“We support the move to standardise coaching contracts, and we also want to work with our clubs to increase the opportunities being given to women coaches in professional football, as well as safeguarding better conditions for all coaches across the A-Leagues.”

Phil Moss, Football Coaches Australia President, stated:

“The coach surveys that FCA conducts are a critical piece of work designed to give our members a voice on the challenges we face, specifically around working conditions. The results, in context, show we have work to do in terms of improving those conditions. Coaching is a profession – a highly skilled profession – which must have working conditions commensurate with the role.

“The proactive, positive and solution focused approach shown by Danny Townsend, and his team at APL, aligns brilliantly with ours and fills us with confidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Together we can work through the issues and arrive at a place that will play a significant role in taking the game forward in Australia.

“Increased opportunities for coaches in the men’s and women’s game is a great start and we are pleased to be working closely with APL and other stakeholders within the game to implement standardized working conditions, including but not limited to standard coaching contracts.”

Sarah West, Vice President Football Coaches Australia, stated:

“The expansion of the Liberty A-League is certainly a positive step in the right direction for Australian Football, however important steps must be taken to ensure it doesn’t thrust those working in the league deeper under the poverty line.

“Coaching is a demanding role with significant pressures, expectation and responsibility, and the wellbeing of coaches depends on the ability to earn a live-able wage which fairly compensates for their responsibilities and real working hours.

“As shown by the FCA Independent surveys of Licenced Football Coaches report, around half of the coaches and 75% of the analysts working in the Liberty A-League last year held a job outside of football and all of them found juggling both roles challenging. That’s not the best situation for Australian football.

“Furthermore, the number of coaches – Head Coaches, Assistant Coaches and Analysts – who are being paid less than the Australian minimum wage rings major alarm bells.

“We can’t expect to produce the best possible football product and be confident that our players are being adequately protected, cared for and their needs catered for if our coaches – the people ultimately held responsible – are stretched so thin just trying to pay the bills and keep their heads above water.

“This situation is also counter-intuitive to growing coaching talent, because many great people walk away before they reach their potential, due to the challenges of managing several jobs, families and maintaining good mental health.

“It’s great that the APL and other stakeholders have agreed to come to the table to address this important issue. If we don’t – there will simply be no enduring legacy left from next year’s Women’s World Cup.”

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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