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.”