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.”

A-Leagues Unite Round returns for a second season

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have confirmed the return of Unite Round to the A-Leagues for the 2024/25 season with some changes from the first edition.

The A-League’s ‘ultimate away day’ utilises the same idea as the AFL and NRL with ‘Gather Round’ and ‘Magic Round’ respectively, where one round for both men’s and women’s leagues will all be played in one city.

The second instalment of Unite Round will be once again hosted in New South Wales and will now start on 22 November and conclude on 24 November, instead of taking place in January.

The six games from each league will be split into three double headers throughout the weekend. All of the men’s games will be played at Allianz Stadium whereas the women’s games will be played at Leichhardt Oval. However, Commbank Stadium will not be a featured venue, unlike last season.

Due to the inception of Auckland FC into the A-League Men, there will be an uneven number of teams in the league and therefore each club must serve a bye each weekend. The bye will fall onto Melbourne City during Unite Round, but their women’s side will still play that weekend.

The APL seems to be satisfied to give it another shot, but it still raises many questions about what has been done to entice fans to make the journey to New South Wales and what improvements have been implemented to make this round sustainable for future seasons.

Last year’s fixtures showcased many high-scoring games, with four out of the six men’s games during Unite Round having five or more goals scored- with Adelaide United’s Hiroshi Ibuski and Macarthur FC’s Ulises Dávila both scoring hat-tricks during the weekend.

However, crowd numbers were quite low given the stadiums where these games were being played. To provide context, Leichhardt Oval, Commbank Stadium and Allianz Stadium have a venue capacity of 20,000, 30,000 and 42,500 respectively.

A-League Men Unite Round Crowd Numbers:

  • Macarthur FC vs Western United at Commbank Stadium: 3,441
  • Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City at Commbank Stadium: 7,117
  • Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium: 8,147
  • Sydney FC vs Adelaide United at Allianz Stadium: 11,918
  • Brisbane Roar vs Newcastle Jets at Allianz Stadium: 3,948
  • Perth Glory vs Wellington Phoenix at Commbank Stadium: 1,632

A-League Women Unite Round Crowd Numbers:

  • Melbourne Victory vs Perth Glory at Leichhardt Oval: 1,130
  • Wellington Phoenix vs Central Coast Mariners at Leichhardt Oval: 1,938
  • Canberra United vs Adelaide United at Leichhardt Oval: 1,183
  • Brisbane Roar vs Newcastle Jets at Leichhardt Oval: 1,417
  • Western United vs Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium: 4,039
  • Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City at Commbank Stadium: 1,515

For the first time as a way to get more people to travel to New South Wales, full-season members at every club will be given access to complimentary tickets to their club’s fixtures at Unite Round. This could potentially see an increase in crowd numbers, but there are still other factors that may steer fans away from travelling.

According to the Unite Round FAQs on the A-Leagues website, the APL is working with a few providers on travel discounts for fans to travel to New South Wales, but at the moment, flights aren’t the cheapest if you decide to plan ahead.

The cheapest interstate flights in Australia can range from $200 to $600 depending on where you are travelling from. But when you take into account fans of Wellington Phoenix and Auckland FC who may want to travel from New Zealand, the cheapest flights will cost from $400 to $600. Also, fans would need to sort out accommodation and that too is still another expense fans will have to deal with.

The idea to bring Unite Round for a second season enables fans from Australia and New Zealand to come together and celebrate football in one location. The fixtures that have been released should excite all A-League fans as the two New South Wales derbies are being played that weekend.

Taking into consideration the expenses fans have to deal with, it may not be feasible for some fans to enjoy the festivities. However, it’s still early days and the APL could potentially sort out ways for fans to make it easier for them to travel.

Considering the league undergoing some financial troubles, they’ll be hoping to make the most out of Unite Round and continue it for more future seasons to come.

Football Victoria choose INTIX as exclusive ticketing provider

Football Victoria have confirmed a new and exciting partnership with ticketing and membership company INTIX, which will commence in 2024 in time for next season.

INTIX will become the exclusive ticketing provider for all FV-managed events and will be the preferred provider for events at The Home of the Matildas.

This collaboration will also make FV’s event management more efficient and improve communication with fans and sponsors through their CRM systems.

INTIX is an Australian owned and operated company that specialise in event operations, ticketing and marketing specifically for sporting events.

The company was established in 2017 by Alex Grant with an ambitious goal to provide the best ticketing platform available to event organisers, clubs and venues.

INTIX partnered with Melbourne Victory to provide digital ticketing for all its corporate hospitality functions, and they have worked many high-scale football events.

The company also has experience in the NBL with the Tasmanian JackJumpers and in 2021 worked with AFL Victoria to supply ticketing services to metropolitan leagues and clubs.

This partnership for FV scratches the surface for what is the possibility in the future for NPL and A-League matches that have completely different systems. The expensive processing fees of Ticketek and Ticketmaster have left many fans frustrated at the process of purchasing their ticket and success with this collaboration could see INTIX expand inside the sport of football.

FV Executive Manager of Commercial, Chris Speldewinde, spoke about the improvements to matchday operations that will be made through this collaboration.

“We are thrilled to join forces with INTIX. Their state-of-the-art ticketing and CRM solutions will not only optimise our operations but also elevate our engagement with fans and sponsors. This collaboration signifies an exciting new chapter for Football Victoria,” he said in a statement.

INTIX’s advanced ticketing system will simplify the purchasing of tickets to these events and be readily available to fans online, reducing wait times to provide seamless access into events.

As the Home of the Matildas begins to stage bigger events, this partnership importantly professionalises the experience of getting to the seat and helps FV manage big crowds a lot easier.

It’s a collaboration that allows FV to focus more on strategic growth initiatives and delivering a better experience for fans and stakeholders.

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