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Fox Sports staff cuts reinforce football is not a high priority

On Wednesday, Foxtel announced a host of cuts to its Fox Sports News division.

Of the expected 20 or so staff to lose their jobs, football reporters Daniel Garb and Carly Adno have confirmed their departures from the company.

Head of Fox Sports, Peter Campbell, told staff in a letter that the decision was based on a thorough review.

“Following a careful and considered review, we have today announced some changes to the programming of FOX SPORTS News which reduces the number of live news hours through the middle of weekdays and which unfortunately have resulted in a number of redundancies within the Australian News Channel (ANC) team that delivers FOX SPORTS News.

“Our customer audience analysis shows viewing of FOX SPORTS News now peaks in the morning and evening and on weekends, with low daytime viewership. Therefore we are going to focus on delivering live sports news and the channel’s marquee programs, including AFL Tonight, NRL Tonight and Cricket AM, during those peak periods.

“This decision is not about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on sport. It simply reflects viewers are consuming sports news in different ways and at different times together with the same challenging conditions in the advertising market that are impacting the entire entertainment industry.”

The company wants to focus their energy on morning sports bulletins and evening shows, which will also perform better on their on-demand streaming service Kayo Sports.

Campbell’s comments reiterate the idea that the AFL, NRL and Cricket are their marquee offerings, therefore it is in their best interests to improve their associated programming for these sports.

On the football side of things, the axing of Garb and Adno is a huge blow to the sport’s presence on the Fox Sports network.

Garb, in particular, has been a prominent footballing voice on Fox Sports News as well as the host of the weekly Fox Football Podcast.

The podcast itself has become more important in recent times, due to the lack of magazine shows on Fox Sports for the A-League.

Magazine shows such as Sunday Shootout and Just for Kicks were all axed by Fox in recent years.

The job cuts come after the news the A-League will play on and try to finish the season, even though there are concerns around the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there is a possibility Fox Sports will look to get out of the TV deal they signed with the A-League in late 2016, if the competition was abandoned this season.

If the A-League fails to meet its obligations this season, it could give Fox Sports the opportunity to move its way out of a deal they are currently unhappy with due to the leagues declining ratings.

A-League decision makers plan to condense the season into a shorter timeframe, with the hope of finishing by mid-April.

PFA CEO John Didiluca told SMH: “As it stands now we have no certainty about what Fox will do in the event of the league having to be shut down – whether they choose to withhold funding or terminate the agreement.”

“All of these things are options and we just don’t have an answer about what that will be.

“The players are showing their commitment and good faith by putting their hands up and continuing to play. The nature of their choice is awful, effectively having to weigh up risks to their personal and public health on one hand with the knowledge the football economy could collapse on the other.

“Fox have helped us build our competitions from day one and we now need them stick with us more than ever. We are urging them to match the resilience and commitment that the players and the clubs are showing. This will give everybody within the football community some measure of certainty that the sport has a strong future.”

Although Fox may not be satisfied with their current deal with the A-League, outside of the NRL and AFL there is not a whole of sport to broadcast at the moment.

The A-League would have received pressure from Fox to continue the season, even though there is uncertainty Fox will continue broadcasting the competition in the future.

Fox seems to be using the A-League to boost its current lack of sport offerings on Kayo Sports, despite recently sacking one of its most influential voices.

Football is not a priority for the company at this stage, but rather a pawn they can easily influence in these uncertain times.

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 Victoria announce 2021 refund policy

Football Victoria has announced a refund policy that will provide over $1.75 million of refunds to members across the state.

The refunds are based on a formula that take into account the 2021 Football Victoria “No Season” Refund multiplied by the percentage of rounds that were not played.

Football Victoria’s refund policy allocates refunds on both a per player and team basis, with the total refunds being returned to clubs and players totalling in excess of $1.75 million.

Player refunds will be processed via clubs.

The Football Victoria statement announcing the refund policy read:

“Most of our community will recall from both the 2020 and preliminary 2021 policies, that a cost apportionment model is used to generate the relevant refunds for each competition. It is really important to note that FV’s costs are not linear to the season, with an overwhelming proportion of the work to provide football competitions completed prior to the season’s commencement. This is reflected in the preliminary version of the 2021 Fee Refund Policy released pre-season, which contained relevant refunds for a ‘no-season scenario’.

“Based on this cost apportionment model only, no refunds would be payable at this stage of the season. However, FV is acutely aware of the financial impacts to the football ecosystem and its stakeholders. Through this updated policy, we have made a strong commitment to supporting our Clubs and players, at a time when they need it most.

“As a result, we have developed a formula, as below, to deliver funds back to both Clubs and players, to support your football journey and a return to football in 2022. We have applied cost apportionment principles, as represented through the ‘no season’ refund percentages, as well as the percentage of rounds unable to be completed for each competition.”

The announcement also confirmed that Football Victoria would be establishing principles within the Rules of Competition that are better equipped to deal with the consequences of cancelled or partially completed seasons.

“We cannot help but reflect on where our game could have been, if not for the back-to-back season interruptions in 2020 and 2021. While the 2021 season cancellations across the state didn’t come as a surprise to many, we know it doesn’t make it any easier to accept, including what this means for promotion, relegation and awarding champions,” the statement reads.

“In advance of the 2022 season, the Board is committed to ensuring the Rules of Competition reflect a clear set of principles in the event of any future interrupted or incomplete seasons.

“Many Clubs have reinforced a strong desire to play football in any format, when it is safe to do so. The call of the pitch is strong and we will be working with Clubs to provide football in all ways, at venues across the state in spring and summer. We look forward to sharing more information on this shortly when we have direction from the Victorian Government.”

You can access the refund policy HERE.

Sydney FC members to pick and choose membership packs in 2021/22

Sydney FC has introduced an Aussie-first membership platform, with members to gain more control over the customisation of their membership packs.

Sydney FC has introduced an Australian-first membership platform, with members to gain more control over the customisation of their membership packs.

The club and its membership products provider, TPF Sports, will greatly increase member satisfaction and reduce environmental impact. Sydney FC members who sign up for the 2021/22 season will have credits put onto their accounts, allowing them to choose from a variety of Membership card designs and, depending on their package, a variety of personalised items.

Each merchandising item may be customised with different colours and names, allowing for unique bundles based on age, gender, product choice, artwork style, personalisation, years of tender, and a variety of other factors.

Sydney FC Chief Executive Officer Danny Townsend hailed the announcement as a big step forward for how the club engages with its members.

“Our new eMber+ platform is a huge step forward and once again Sydney FC is proud to be leading the way in Member engagement,” he said via a club statement,” he said.

“Gone are the days of receiving the same standard Membership pack as everyone else.

“Now you can tailor your package to suit your preferences and how you wish to support the Sky Blues.

“There’s a fantastic range of customisable merchandise available and I know I’m looking forward to my delivery in the coming weeks.”

TPF Sports Director Craig Dyer explains the move is a worldwide first and one of the benefits of the move would be the reduced environmental impact of membership packs, thanks largely in part to the fact that members will only receive merchandise they actually want.

“There are iterations of loyalty and rewards platforms globally,” he said.

“But to the best of our knowledge from 18 to 20 months of development and research, we believe this is the first-ever platform of its kind and certainly the first for sport and membership-based programs.

“Our vision in developing the platform is to revolutionise the long-standing pre-determined assignment of resources to Members by assigning credit. This allows them to redeem merchandise and entitlements they deem relevant to them.

“This platform also has a strong environmental slant, as we are only supplying merchandise and delivering this merchandise to Members who want to redeem it.

“Additionally, almost every product is on-demand, meaning we receive Members’ selection based on products and artwork, print them with selected artwork and personalisation, pick, pack and fulfil directly to the Members door.”

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