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Hyundai Gone as Major A-League Sponsor?

In a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, the FFA is set to lose one of its longest-serving sponsors in June.

Hyundai has been the A-League’s major sponsor since the very beginning in 2004. Should they cease sponsorship of the A-League, it would be the end of an era.

According to the report from SMH, Hyundai’s main reasoning is that they feel the interest in the A-League is steadily declining combined with poor revenue in their own market.

Hyundai is also reportedly still at odds with the FFA regarding the unceremonious sacking of former Matildas’ coach Alen Stajcic. Stajcic’s dumping still leaves a sour taste in many people’s mouths, even Hyundai.

Should Hyundai can its sponsorship with the A-League, it will unfortunately join a number of other former sponsors who, in recent times also decided to walk out the door on their partnerships.

“Conversations are currently ongoing between Hyundai and Football Federation Australia around Hyundai’s naming rights partnership with the game,” said Bill Thomas, Hyundai’s Director of Marketing.

“Currently we are not in a position to go into detail about these discussions but we will be announcing our plans at the appropriate time.”

Hypothetically, if Hyundai were no longer sponsors for the A-League, what would happen?

The A-League wouldn’t be the first major competition in Australia to not have title partners. The NPL competitions across the country have used sponsors in recent times such as PS4, but do not have one at the time of writing this.

Perhaps the most well-known competition in Australia without a title partner is the FFA Cup.

Back in 2017, Westfield, who were the major sponsors for the knockout tournament since its formation in 2014, decided to withdraw their sponsorship of the Cup.

The Cup has run well without major sponsorship in the two and a half years since Westfield departed, but could the A-League enjoy such success without a title partner like Hyundai?

The report from SMH says that the deal isn’t completely dead in the water, but that any talks to further the sponsorship are suggesting any deal won’t run past 2021 anyway.

The FFA, by convincing Hyundai to stay on for one extra year, is likely looking to bide some time whilst they find another title partner.

Hyundai also covers the W-League, which would mean any sponsorship withdrawal from the South Korean manufacturer would have a significant impact on the women’s game too.

The writing seems to be on the wall for the FFA and this deal, despite the potential for Hyundai to stay on for one more year.

Sponsors can come and go in the sporting industry. We see it all the time with sporting brands such as Adidas, Puma and Nike. Premier League club Arsenal used Adidas during their early Premier League days before moving to Puma.

Now, they’re back with Adidas. So companies don’t seem to mind where they sponsor, so long as they get paid well for it.

Hyundai’s relationship with the FFA and the A-League however was about more than money.

It will be fascinating to see who jumps on as the next title partner for the A-League whenever Hyundai decide that their time is up.

From all of us here at Soccerscene, we thank the South Korean car manufacturer for all their support since 2004 because arguably, the league wouldn’t be where it is today without them.

Whoever steps up in their place will not have just a great chance to make waves in the industry, but there will also be a lot of pressure to reach the same level Hyundai got to.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Are you happy for a fresh start without Hyundai? Or are you sad to see them go after nearly 16 years of incredible support?

Get involved in the conversation on Twitter @Soccersceneau

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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.

The future of the professional game in Australia: One-on-one with Sydney FC CEO and APL Managing Director Danny Townsend

Sydney FC CEO Danny Townsend is one of the key central figures tasked with revitalising the A-League and the W-League.

Speaking with Soccerscene, the recently appointed Managing Director of the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) believes the professional game in this country is at a critical juncture, as the representative body looks to secure a new TV deal to underpin the future of the sport.

“It’s a crucial deal for the game,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about being able to provide us with some financial security, but importantly also provide us with the right amount of reach for our game. I think we need to have all of the ‘media pipes’ on into the future, as we sort of re-invent the leagues.”

Townsend admits an agreement is set to be struck within the next 4-6 weeks and whilst a summer season for the A-League looks likely, the former Sydney United midfielder would not commit to it whilst discussions with broadcasters continue.

“We are working through that process at the moment; you’ve got to play when you are most commercially viable,” he said.

“What’s really important for this sport is having a sound financial framework around the game. That will mean we need to play when we are most valuable and the market will determine when that is. Equally, we will need to look at a lot of different factors around what it will do for other revenue streams in the game.

“It’s not just about the TV deal, it’s about attendances, memberships, sponsorships and all of those factors need to be considered when you set your calendar.”

The current on-field product of the A-League this season has been the best it has been for years, with the Sydney FC CEO outlining a few reasons why he believes that is the case.

“It’s been an amazing season so far,” Townsend said.

“The matches have a quality that we probably didn’t expect coming out of COVID.

“I think the 5-sub rule has helped, being able to change potentially a third or more of your team at any given time during a match just throws up a degree of uncertainty in games, which has just been interesting.

“I also believe the youth has been a major factor. The amount of quality young players coming into the competition this year – it’s a by-product of the COVID pandemic, which has influenced the financials of the game and meant that clubs have probably had to have a look to their own development pathways more than they might have done in other years.

“The proof is in the pudding. Players like Alou Kuol, Kusini Yengi, these guys that are being unearthed are phenomenal talents and they are great for our game.”

Sydney FC CEO and APL Managing Director Danny Townsend

The attractive product on the park this year doesn’t take away from the issues off the field. The A-League currently doesn’t have a naming rights sponsor since Hyundai exited a 15-year partnership with the league last year. It’s a problem which the APL’s new managing director believes will be addressed in due time.

“I think you’ll see more once we start to roll out the APL strategy, we are seeing a huge amount of corporate interest in what we are doing,” Townsend said.

“I think you’ll see those current vacancies filled pretty quickly.”

Crowds are down this season for a multitude of reasons, one of those being the after effects of a global pandemic, but Townsend realises the game has to do better with engaging fans of the sport.

“I think what we’ve got to do is reconnect and connect,” he said.

“What I mean by that is there are a lot of people who have been involved in football over a long period of time, who don’t support the A-League or W-League. We need to reconnect with those people.

“We need to embrace our multicultural heritage; the sport was built on immigration and those cultures that come together to play the world game. Ultimately, the beautiful thing about our code is that we are the number one sport in the world. We need to be the number one sport in Australia as well. I think that’s going to come with unity, bringing people back into the game and connecting with those already in the game.”

The APL will focus their energy on a digital first strategy to connect the close to 2 million participants in Australia to the game, with Townsend explaining it will allow the representative body to understand who those people are, know their preferences and serve them with appropriate content and information to link them with the sport.

Unique identifiers such as active support will also be prioritised, with the hope being to bring the level of support back to the golden years of the A-League.

“When I bring mates of mine who are Rugby League guys or Rugby Union guys along to a Sydney FC game, they are blown away by the atmosphere that’s created by the active supporters,” Townsend said.

“It’s something we have to embrace. It’s not simple because there are other stakeholders involved that contribute to how they are managed, but we need to reduce the barriers of entry for people who want to be a part of active support.”

Unifying the sport is a key point in the APL’s overall mission for the game and Townsend claims the representative body is supportive of a national second division, as long as there is a sustainable financial framework around it.

“We are about growing football. I’m still yet to really engage with anyone involved in a national second division to understand what their plan is, but where we can we want to help,” he said.

“We are up for working with the NPL and helping them grow the consumption of their content. They’ve got NPL.TV which is a fantastic initiative. How we work with that, with APL and our content, is important in bringing that unity back to the game.”

 

 

APL appoints three new executives for commercial and marketing

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have appointed three new senior executives who will develop a commercial and marketing function.

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have appointed three new senior executives who will develop a commercial and marketing function to be part of the APL’s ambitious growth strategy.

All three personnel have had extensive experience in marketing related to sport and global organisations, bringing across new ideas to promote the game.

Ryan Sandilands is set to be the APL’s first Commercial Director, tasked with supercharging the commercial and operational capabilities of the APL and club commercial teams. Sandilands is a sports and entertainment industry veteran of 20 years, having led commercial growth and strategic planning for companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Women’s Tennis Association, City Football Group and AEG.

Rob Nolan will lead the marketing and data operations function, as APL focusses on a new future about how it engages with football fans on a one-to-one basis. Nolan brings over 20-years of global marketing experience from six countries, including Kayo Sports, News Corp and iflix, one of south-east Asia’s biggest entertainment subscription VOD services. Nolan has also spent time building data capability to fuel growth with data agency Digital Alchemy and various telcos including Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and O2 in the UK.

Stacey Knox joins the APL marketing team to overhaul their operational capability to prepare the execution of the APL’s ambitious direct-to-consumer strategy. Knox has more than two decades of experience in global marketing organisations and agencies, including the Coca-Cola Company, News Limited and Inchcape. She’s also a coach and mentor to industry bodies and not-for-profit organisations.

“This team is here to innovate and supercharge the commercial and marketing capabilities of the APL as we realise our reinvention as a leading football entertainment company,” APL Chief Commercial Officer Ant Hearne said.

“We’re seeing the most entertaining football on the pitch and it’s our job to take that directly to fans with a world class fan experience and content offering.”

These new appointments add to the recently announced Managing Director Danny Townsend, Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke, Chief Commercial Officer Ant Hearne, Strategy and Digital Director Michael Tange, and Deputy Commissioner Tracey Scott in the APL leadership group.

MyState Bank announced as new naming rights sponsor for Tasmania’s Women’s Super League

MyState Bank have been announced as the new naming rights sponsor for Tasmania’s premier women’s football competition for the next two seasons.

Alongside its agreement with the Women’s Super League, MyState Bank will also sponsor the state’s referees across all levels of the sport.

Football Tasmania CEO Matt Bulkeley was delighted with the deal, in an exciting development for the sport in Tasmania.

“With more players than any other sport, the World Game is Tasmania’s Game and it’s wonderful to have the support of a prominent Tasmanian business for our premier women’s competition, as well as community football and referees,” he said.

While we’re looking forward to welcoming A-League matches this season and finding out whether the Women’s World Cup will come to Launceston in 2023, grassroots football will always be the heart of the sport in Tasmania.

“MyState Bank’s sponsorship will help grow football in Tasmania even further, enabling communities across the state to continue to enjoy football’s vast array of health and social benefits.”

MyState Bank CEO Melos Sulicich stated: “Tasmania is a vibrant state, where dedicated, talented people in the community achieve great things every day and MyState Bank is proud to support and encourage them through our many community projects and initiatives.

“The growth of women’s sport in Tasmania has been wonderful to see, and football has been at the forefront of this. The WSL competition has expanded this year to include teams from all major centres in the state and we’re excited to play a part in its continued growth.

“MyState believes integrity is incredibly important in all areas of the community, and this is why we’ve continued our partnership with Football Tasmania to encourage integrity and sportsmanship across all junior matches in Tasmania.”

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