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Football Victoria in talks with Optus Sport and Kayo

CEO of Football Victoria (FV) Peter Filopoulos has revealed FV are in discussions with Optus Sport and Foxtel subsidiary streaming service Kayo Sports.

Speaking recently on the For Vuck’s Sake podcast, Filopoulos claimed FV’s broadcast strategy to live stream all NPL Victoria games was creating an abundance of content.

“Part of our ambition was that we are going to have heaps of content for a Kayo or an Optus,” he said.

“These platforms now are subscription-based platforms who are constantly going to look at curating content.

“Pleasingly, we are now in firm discussions with Optus and Kayo Sports in ways they can capitalise on that content with weekly shows … on their platforms.

“That’s the whole motivation around it and I think we need to innovate.”

Filopoulos confirmed the governing body was also looking to create its own over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, after encouraging viewing numbers for the start of the NPL Victoria season.

“We’ve got over 40,000 unique viewers every week now,” Filopoulos said.

“We’re also evolving the product and we’re currently experimenting with our own OTT platform, so that we can transition the broadcast away from other people’s platforms and onto ours.

“So [moving] away from Facebook and YouTube and [directing it] through our own OTT platform, similar to the way Netflix is delivered to the consumer.

“We are experimenting with that at the moment and hopefully that’s not too far away.

“Once we have our own platform, we can control our own destiny.”

NPL Victoria Men, Women and U20’s games are currently streamed on the NPL Victoria Facebook and YouTube social channels.

South Melbourne FC, one of the clubs heavily involved in a push for a national second division, registered over 10,000 Facebook views on NPL Victoria’s live stream of their game against Eastern Lions on Sunday. The YouTube view count for the match was over 5,300.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game. Follow him on Twitter @PhilipPanas

Football Victoria provides update to football community

Football Victoria (FV) have released an update to the Victorian football community on Friday.

In a letter from FV CEO Peter Filopoulos and FV President Kimon Taliadoros, the governing body thanked the community and those who have supported the game during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Firstly, on behalf of Football Victoria, we would like to take this time to thank you for doing all you can to help your fellow Victorians during this unprecedented period. It has been a time like no other and never before has our community been so determined to do the right thing,” FV said in the letter.

“The efforts made by the entire football family allowed us to get many of our competitions back onto the pitch – or within days of returning in metropolitan areas, before the return of Stage 3 lockdown. It was an extraordinary collective community effort.

“Football has been greatly supported by the State Government, Sport and Recreation Victoria, Vicsport, our 79 Local Government Areas and a range of other stakeholders, who did all they could to provide support and ensure that football could resume at the appropriate time. Likewise, our commercial partners have stood with us every step of the way.”

The organisation provided details in regards to its refund policy for the season and will assist vulnerable clubs in securing government relief packages.

“We are very close to finalising the FV refund policy for our portion of participants fees. Emergency committees of football stakeholders have been created to work through the incredibly complex matrix of issues. We are working with clubs to ensure their input in developing a reasonable, transparent and fair FV refund policy. Each individual club will need then to take into account their own circumstances when developing their own club refund policy.

“We will be continuing to consult directly with clubs in coming weeks, all of which face significant challenges. We will make sure clubs are aware of any government relief packages available and will continue to provide assistance in unlocking funding opportunities. We are also working very closely with the state government to ensure opportunities for facilities funding are maximised at this time.”

Data collected by the Australian Sports Federation (ASF) of 2,700 sporting clubs around Australia, estimated a total loss of up to $1.5 billion due to the current crisis.

“This is not some imaginary, ‘worst case scenario’ projection. This is right here, right now. After six months with hardly any football, our sport and the clubs that play it are on the edge.”

The governing body did restate its intention to have competitive football played before the end of the year, if possible to do so.

“Even though the situation changes week-to-week, we remain determined to get the ball rolling this year.”

“Football will survive and it will again thrive. And when it does, we promise to be ready, just as we know our football community will be,” FV concluded.

Robert Cavallucci: “We are no longer going to accept playing second fiddle to other sports”

With the COVID-19 restrictions easing in Queensland, CEO of Football Queensland Robert Cavallucci is travelling the state to conduct club summits as part of the Future of Football 2020+ consultation process.

The strategy aims to provide a voice for people involved within the football industry. Administrators, coaches, players, and other stakeholders are being encouraged to constructively participate in high-level discussions and provide recommendations.

After conducting several summits and scheduling many more, Cavallucci spoke exclusively with Soccerscene to share his insights into the current state of investment, infrastructure, and regional football in Queensland and also to discuss some of the challenges ahead.

“We are conducting an extensive state-wide consultation process and the main purpose of it is to listen. It is about asking football stakeholders their vision of the game and ultimately, we will bring it all together in a report where we will outline opportunities across four key areas of focus. Governance, administration, competition reform, and affordability,” Cavallucci says.

One of the major goals for Football Queensland moving forward will be to amplify the level of investment that the State and Federal governments provide. With participation rates steadily increasing, Cavallucci fears the current level of infrastructure will struggle to meet the growing demand caused by more players and more staff.

“The level of infrastructure and financial support is mixed. Some areas have fantastic facilities and others have suffered from years of underinvestment,” he says.

“Underinvestment has been a systemic problem for Australian football. In the past our sport has failed to work with governments in a meaningful way. In Australia and in Queensland, we have failed to demonstrate our value and our contribution to the community. We have failed to stand up for ourselves and we have failed to make the case as to why our sport deserves significantly better investments from the government.”

“We now can demonstrate with data that we are clearly the biggest game, particularly for girls and women. We have the Women’s World Cup on the way and it is absolutely our responsibility to make the case as to why they need to support our game. There is an imbalance of investment and our infrastructure can simply not accommodate the growth, let alone the nature of the game which is changing and becoming far more inclusive and accessible than ever before.”

Although there is a need for more financial backing, recent years have seen a positive trend in the amount of wages Football Queensland have been able to allocate to staff working within the industry.

Data provided by Cavallucci reveals that for men’s football, the annual budget allotted to coaches and other staff in the state was $178,000 in 2017. This rose to $316,000 in 2018 and to more than $551,000 in 2019.

For the women’s side of the game there has also been a substantial increase of funding to meet the demand driven by participation rates. In 2018 $65,000 was being invested into staff wages, a figure which rose to more than $200,000 in 2019 and is set to increase further.

Football has long overtaken the traditional powers of Rugby League and Rugby Union as the most popular organised sport in Queensland and the successful Women’s World Cup bid will certainly add to the world game’s momentum. Football Queensland is optimistic of seizing the opportunities that are presenting themselves by implementing a level of planning and professionalism that has not previously existed.

“For the first time we have created a state-wide infrastructure plan which clearly outlines our motives for the next four years, how we plan to deliver these motives, and how we will work with the government to achieve them. It’s the first time all these types of things are being done and documented,” Cavallucci says.

“Football is the biggest and greatest sport; we are no longer going to accept playing second fiddle to other sports.”

While Football Queensland is working towards high-level reform, the current summits are also focusing heavily on regional and grass-roots football.

One of the major challenges top level administrators currently face in Queensland is the sheer vastness of the state. Townships and regions are often separated by hours of travel so providing equality in terms of competition, infrastructure and development pathways has always been difficult.

“We’re absolutely keen to develop regional football further, but Queensland is a very big state. The tyranny of distance presents immense challenges to ensure we have the opportunity for all participants to have access to the same services, pathways, facilities, opportunities for coaches, and referees. It presents enormous challenges,” Cavallucci says.

“That being said, regional football in Queensland is in a fantastic place. We have great local competitions and there has been some major growth in participation figures for across both genders.”

Cavallucci adds that a theme of the feedback, particularly from those in northern Queensland has been around restructuring the competitive zones. The state is currently split into 10 geographical zones which although designed with the best intentions may be holding clubs back.

“From our perspective, there needs to be a willingness to be open to new ideas. Many of the clubs want broader regions because they feel constrained within their geographical boundaries. The feedback around that has been really strong as the boundaries may limit what some of the more aspirational clubs are wanting to do,” he says.

The Future of Football 2020+ consultation process is expected to include more than 186,000 participants, 317 clubs, and 12 stakeholder groups. For more information or to register for a focus group, visit footballqueensland.com.au/future-of-football.

$1.5 Billion FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan Approved

FIFA

The Bureau of the FIFA Council has approved the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan regulations which aim to financially support member associations during the pandemic.

$1.5 billion USD ($2.1 billion AUD), will be made available by the international governing body to assist the member associations and confederations.

Each member association will receive a $1 million USD universal solidarity grant. An extra $500,000 USD will be provided which can only be used for women’s football.

The six football confederations will also receive $2 million USD each, these grants will be received by the organisations by January 2021.

As a part of the plan member associations will also be able to apply for interest free loans of up to 35 per cent of their annual revenues. FIFA has set a maximum loan limit of five million dollars. Confederations will be able to apply for loan of up to four million dollars.

FIFA said that clear loan repayment conditions are laid out in the regulations along with strict compliance and audit requirements.

“This relief plan is a great example of football’s solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“I would like to thank my colleagues of the Bureau of the Council for approving the decision to move forward with such an important initiative for the benefit of all member associations and confederations.”

With the funds provided FIFA believes that member associations will be able to restart competitions, re-hire staff and pay any administration or operating costs.

“Unfortunately, the resultant suspension of basic football activities in almost every country has led to enormous financial distress for member associations and their respective football structures,” FIFA said in the relief plan.

“FIFA quickly recognised the need and duty to implement a FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan aimed at alleviating this distress and ensuring the provision of financial support to assist with football’s resumption and protect the games future well-being across the globe.”

FIFA administrators created the plan earlier this year after consultation with the confederations. The plan was then approved by the FIFA Council on June 25.

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