Football Victoria makes operational changes due to COVID-19

Football Victoria have announced changes to its operations, with the aim of securing the financial viability of its organisation and member clubs.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the governing body will reduce the pay of its five-member executive team by 40%.

More than half of its workforce will be stood down for a month, with affected staff able to access annual leave and long service leave entitlements for the 30 days.

Football Victoria also announced it will:

  • Retain a core team of football, operational and business services staff on reduced hours and pay, with a focus on providing ongoing support to member clubs across the state, as well as scenario-planning to enable the resumption of all sanctioned competitions and participation programs post-shutdown;
  • Place an immediate freeze on recruitment; and
  • Consider the potential for further staffing adjustments subject to the duration and/or financial impact of the suspension of football activity.

It is also expected that football activity will be suspended beyond the current 14 April deadline, with Member Federations currently in discussions with the FFA about further measures.

Football Victoria CEO, Peter Filopoulos, revealed the governing body was engaging with federal and state governments in relation to financial support.

Mr Filopoulos claimed the situation facing the sport is extremely difficult.

“These are extraordinary times, which call for extraordinary action to ensure the financial viability and long-term sustainability of our game across Victoria. It’s gut-wrenching for everyone involved in the game, and I’m acutely aware of the impact that stand downs will have on the lives of our people,” he said.

“However, it’s vital that the organisation is fit-for-purpose during this period, and remains agile and responsive so that we’re in a position to get through the significant challenges facing us right now and be able to resume football activities down the track.

“Over the past couple of years, the team’s been working hard to develop and deliver on our strategic plan, FootbALLways. I’m immensely proud of them, and I’m humbled by the way the Victorian football community has responded to this unprecedented crisis by taking the appropriate precautions to ensure people stay safe and healthy,” Mr Filopoulos said.

“As an organisation, we’ve had to take measured action quickly and we’ve sought to keep our staff and clubs fully informed during this challenging period, with the absolute focus being on their health and well-being, and to support them as well as we possibly can.”

Mr Filopoulos continued:

“The COVID-19 health crisis continues to evolve and challenge us with many uncertainties and unknowns. Our focus at this time is to look out for our people and clubs so they can take care of themselves and their families, and we will support our staff however we can if they choose to seek alternative employment during the period of the shutdown. Hopefully, the Federal Government’s latest income relief package will go some way to stemming the number of people we have to stand down.”

“Beyond that, we’re working tirelessly in the background in anticipation of resuming football activities as soon as we can overcome the significant challenges facing us right now. This involves comprehensive scenario planning in consultation with member clubs, local government and the broader community to enable the reactivation of as many of the 40,000 fixtures we stage each season across all levels of football,” he said.

“In the meantime, we appreciate the patience and incredible support of the Victorian football community, the lifeblood of our game.”

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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.

Football Australia near $200m TV deal with Network Ten

Football Australia is currently in the final stages of negotiations to secure a record-breaking $200 million TV deal with Network Ten that will extend the current broadcast deal for four more years.

Reported by The Australian, the deal will be worth double the current $100 million agreement.

The deal will include broadcast rights to the 2026 Asian Cup women’s tournament that Australia will host, the 2027 Women’s World Cup in Brazil as well as most Socceroos and Matildas games. Football Australia has also bought the rights to some junior World Cup tournaments in order to package them in the new TV contract.

There is no bigger indication of the lasting impact the Matildas have made since the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup concluded in August of last year.

Channel Seven reported that for the Semi Final against England last year, the broadcast reached staggering 11.15 million people nationally with an average audience of 7.13 million, making it the most watched TV program since the OzTAM measurement started in 2001.

Not to mention the fact that the Matildas have sold out stadiums 14 times in a row, including an incredible 76,798 attendance at Monday’s Olympic send-off friendly against China in the cold weather.

Football Australia Chief executive James Johnson didn’t publicly discuss the numbers in the deal but commented on the TV package itself and how the FA no longer relies on broadcast deals to survive.

“What it does ­strategically is it creates a one-stop shop for Matildas and Socceroos content over the next four-year cycle, and it is a creative way to come up with a new package broadcast deal,” he said via press release.

“If you go back four or five years, we were very dependent on broadcast.

“But today you’ve got strong sponsorship and other revenue streams, like merchandise, the broadcasting for national teams only, and also ticketing revenue.

“We have more broadcast revenue that will pick up in (financial year 2025) and there’s also new sponsorship deals like Milo, Coles and the new Nike deal that we signed at the back end of last year.”

This deal is extremely positive for football fans, normalising free-to-air TV in an era where Australian’s access to free sport is dwindling.

The impact of the Matildas and Socceroos producing good results in their respective World Cup’s has given the FA a platform to surge growth at grassroots level and this record-breaking TV deal is the biggest indicator that the future is heading in the right direction.

FIFA trialling Video Support challenge technology

Football Video Support (VS) has been introduced by FIFA as another means of technology to review decisions.

VS is a video review system by FIFA that is the answer to member associations that cannot implement the video-assistant-referee (VAR) system because their human and financial resources are limited and very few cameras are in use in their competitions.

There are cameras set up around the pitch, either human-operated or automated that are used by referees to make decisions after a coach reviews the play.

FIFA are currently trialling VS with a goal to explore new and existing technologies to positively impact the game, especially in order to help referees to make correct decisions, while ensuring that their potential use is cost-effective, beneficial and practical across the global football community.

How does VS work?

  1. Football Video Support (VS) is a video review system introduced by FIFA as a solution for member associations that are unable to implement the video assistant referee (VAR) system.
    a. Goal/no goal
    b. Penalty/no penalty
    c. Direct red cards (not second cautions)
    d. Mistaken identity (when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player of the offending team)
  2. VS can be utilized only after the referee has made a decision (including waving play on as a decision) and a team has subsequently requested a review.
  3. Only the team’s head coach (or, in their absence, the senior team official in the technical area) can request a review. This request must be made immediately after the incident by twirling their finger in the air and handing a review request card to the fourth official. However, each player has the right to ask their head coach to initiate a review request.
  4. The fourth official will inform the referee of the review request and, if play has stopped (and not restarted) since the incident, the referee will go to the referee review area (RRA) to review the replay footage. If play has continued since the incident, the referee will stop play when the ball is in a neutral zone and go to the RRA to review the replay footage.
  5. During the review, the referee will be assisted by a review operator, who will show replay footage on the monitor (e.g. different camera angles, split screen, different replay speeds, etc.).
  6. The original decision taken by the referee will not be changed unless the video replay footage shows clear evidence that the decision was a clear and obvious error or that there has been a serious missed incident. As the VS system involves a small number of cameras, the replay footage will often be inconclusive and thus the original decision may not be changed.
  7. The review request must be made immediately to:

– conform to the Laws of the Game requirement that a decision cannot be changed once play has restarted after a stoppage; and

– prevent unnecessary delays to the game while the team’s head coach (or, in their absence, the senior team official present in the technical area) considers whether to make a review request.

  1. After a goal is scored, the fourth official will review the footage on the monitor and inform the referee if a clear and obvious offense was committed by the attacking team. Unless the decision involves factual matters, the referee will then review the incident and make the final decision.

During the trial phase, it is expected that each team will be able to make two requests per match. If the review by the referee results in the original decision being changed, the team retains (does not lose) that review request.

The technology is not going to replace VAR, it is just going to be used as a cheaper alternative in leagues and associations that lack the current VAR technology to ensure fairness and accuracy across all levels of professional football.

FIFA state that there is no specific timeline, and no decision has been made on when the implementation will take place.

They are currently at the trial stage and after assessing the outcome of the trial will talk with the relevant stakeholders in order to decide on the next steps, including potential additional trials by FIFA and other governing bodies.

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