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Football Victoria and Queensland plan return to action

Football Victoria NPLW

Football Victoria and Queensland have stated they are planning returns to action as early as late June or early July.

State competitions across the country have been postponed for what seems like an eternity now, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

However, with the severity of the virus seemingly lowering, plus the return of elite competitions such as the Korean K-League and the German Bundesliga, FV and FQ are hopeful of returning soon as well.

This in spite of several clubs opposing these new plans due to concerns regarding the potential for their clubs to grow during these times. More on that soon.

In a press release on Tuesday, Football Victoria stated that teams could resume competition as early as June 28.

The full press release can be found here:

*START*

As a result of the Victorian Government’s decision to ease its conditions of Stage 3 restrictions relating to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Football Victoria (FV) is now in the process of finalising its Return to Play strategy.

Already, Government decisions have allowed football clubs to resume training in groups of 10 or less, and we expect that number to be increased in the following weeks, provided there are no major future outbreaks of the Coronavirus.

FV is committed to taking a cautious and sensible approach with regard to the safety of all participants in our sport, be they players, coaches, staff or fans.

However, we also understand there is a pressing need for clarity regarding when competitions are expected to resume.

FV has been engaged in ongoing discussions with FFA, State and Federal Governments (including Sport and Recreation Victoria (SRV)) and with clubs at all levels to establish a suitable time to Return to Play. This has involved the development of a number of scenarios (including the one below) which are still being finalised.

It is important to note that for some clubs, re-starting will be a relatively simple measure, while others have a large number of issues to consider before they can resume. FV’s goal is to get everyone playing again as soon as it is safe to do so.

As a result of the latest easing of restrictions, Football Victoria is targeting the following start dates for the proposed resumption of play:

  • For our Community Clubs (Seniors & Juniors), the proposed resumption date is June 28, 2020.

  • For our NPL Junior Clubs, the proposed resumption date is June 20, 2020.

  • For our NPL Senior clubs, we are hopeful of resuming play in early July. This continues to be worked through with the clubs as we understand the added complexities of re-starting professional and semi-professional clubs.

Of course, these dates are our target dates only and are subject to the further advice of the Federal and State Chief Health Officers – they may be revised should the Victorian Government and SRV advise new dates as we move through the announced stages of the resumption of sport.

Our decision to go public with these dates is indicative of our commitment to ensure that competitive football at all levels returns as soon as possible.

Football Victoria will continue to keep the football community informed and updated in the coming weeks with regard to any developments, especially in regard to the resumption of increased training numbers and, ultimately, the return of competition play.

Whilst we are delighted to see the manner in which our clubs have adjusted to the new realities of modified training and limited social contact, we remind our entire football community that any breaches of the existing social distancing rules may compromise our ability to resume football.

*ENDS*

Whilst Victorian teams can expect an earlier return to on-field fixtures, teams in Queensland will be back a little earlier, albeit on the training track.

In a statement released to social media on Thursday, FQ announced that teams can return to full training on June 12 should the current trend of COVID-19 continue.

Their full statement can be found below:

*START*

Football Queensland has developed Return to Training guidelines and resources for clubs ahead of the recommencement of football activity from June 12, 2020.

Please note all sanctioned football activity across the state will remain suspended until June 12 in line with Queensland Government guidelines.

Developed in consultation with medical authorities, Football Queensland’s Return to Training guidelines and resources align with the Queensland Government’s Return to Play Guide.

These guidelines have been developed to support Queensland clubs, to ensure they are prepared to welcome participants back into a safe environment once training sessions can resume from June 12.

It is essential that all clubs review and implement the measures outlined in the Return to Training guidelines before returning to training. All members of the football community must also ensure they follow the conditions outlined in the Return to Training guidelines.

At each training session, an accurate record of all attendees (including parents/carers) for the purposes of contact tracing must be kept, including full name, FFA number, phone number, date and time of attendance and confirmation whether they have downloaded the COVIDSafe app. You can find a link to download the Record of Attendance template below.

Below you can also find downloadable signage that can be printed for display at your club during training sessions.

The Return to Training guidelines will be amended in accordance with any future government directives.

*ENDS*

It is exciting to see that the state federations are fighting hard to get teams back on the field and that, in these extremely stressful times, plans are being laid.

Some may say this is still too early, given that there are still new cases of COVID-19 being reported nationwide everyday. This news comes in spite of recent reports from some top clubs in Victoria’s NPL competition that if the game goes ahead as per these guidelines, they will be significantly hampered.

All clubs at the community level are almost solely dependant on matchdays for their success, whether that’s earning success on the field, financially or otherwise.

Put simply, more clubs will end up like some of the state league Australian rules clubs, which include the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL and the Northern Blues (formerly the Northern Bullants) in the VFL.

However, it appears that in the eyes of FV and FQ, nothing is more important than getting the players back out on the field, ready to go for the first set of fixtures.

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Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

Player sentiment up, average age down: PFA releases annual report

Sentiment is well and truly up for A-League players, according to the annual Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) report.

This time last year, only 33% of A-League players felt confident about the direction of their football careers.

According to the PFA’s latest annual report, that number is now 56%.

Of the A-League’s 312 players, 200 responded to the 2020/21 A-League survey, capturing 70% of the current cohort, with the results proving that even despite the ongoing turbulence and uncertainty of COVID-19, the majority of players feel much more confident about their futures within the game.

The report highlights that Australian players actively want to remain in the A-League, as opposed to seeking opportunities overseas.

The key numbers that demonstrate this include:

  • 55% of players said they would like to stay playing in the A-League next season, up from 45% last year.
  • 56% of players are confident about the direction of their football careers, compared to 33% in 2019/20.
  • Only 4% of players would move to an overseas league even if it was for similar money and/or playing standard.
  • Only 16% of players who would prefer to move to an overseas league would only do so if the money and standards were better.

Other highlights of the report include that the average A-League player is getting younger.

Over the last 14 years, the average age of the A-League player has consistently trended upwards.

In 2020/21, however, this changed and the average age trended downwards, dropping from 27.6 to 25.1.

The number of players utilised in the A-League who were aged 21 and under came in at 107, representing 35% of the 300 players who received A-League minutes during the 2020/21 season.

The youngest squads on average belonged to Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, with average ages of 23.6 and 23.9 years respectively.

Another highlight was the fact that of the league’s 312 contracted players, 300 received A-League minutes.

“These reports have been immensely valuable, helping the PFA and the players better understand the industry in which they are employed, monitor the application of high-performance standards, assess technical progress and survey the players’ experience,” PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said of the report.

“For the last five years, we have been able to utilise these reports to formulate evidence-based positions to improve the environments in which our members work through collective bargaining.

“Promisingly, after a period of significant uncertainty, the players have indicated that they are more confident in the direction of their careers and the future of the competition than this time last year, signifying a positive shift in the perception of the A-League.”

The report also highlights the fact that A-League attendances were the lowest ever in the competition, thanks in large part to COVID-19, with an average attendance of 5,660.

Foreign players in the league reduced by 12 to a total of 51, whilst the average salary in the A-League is $136,791.

Access the full report HERE.

DFL and AWS introduce two new Match Facts to Bundesliga coverage

Bundesliga analysis

The Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced the addition of two new Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS that will premiere as graphics during broadcasts and in the official Bundesliga app during the 2021-2022 season.

The two new Match Facts – Shot Efficiency and Passing Profile – will bring the total number of advanced statistics to eight, with each of them aiming to give fans deeper insights into the action on the pitch.

The first of the new advanced stats – Shot Efficiency – compares the number of goals that a player or team has scored with how many goals the player or team should have scored based on the quality of their chances.

The second – Passing Profile – provides deeper insights into the pass quality of a player or an entire team. Both of the stats are generated by gathering and analysing the match feeds from live games in real time as they are streamed into AWS.

Both new stats made their debut during Matchday 4 on the clash between German Champion FC Bayern München and the second-placed team of the previous season RB Leipzig.

The two new Match Facts will better showcase the action on the field – giving fans, coaches, players, and commentators visual support for analysing the decision-making of players and teams.

Andreas Heyden, Executive Vice President of Digital Innovations for DFL Group, was excited to further innovate the matchday experience for viewers based both domestically and internationally.

“Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS allows us to give fans more insight into the game of football, broadcasters more interesting stories to tell and coaches and teams, more data to excel at their game,” he said.

“Last year, the reception for Bundesliga Match Facts around the world was very positive, and we expect through ML and AI to continue to innovate on these analytics to make them even better.

“These two new stats give fans a view into player efficiency that hasn’t been achieved before, and we are just at the beginning of our relationship with AWS. I’m excited to see how technology will continue to evolve the fan experience and the game.”

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