Football Victoria and Queensland plan return to action

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.

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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