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

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

A-Leagues Independent Chairman Stephen Conroy on how the APL will evolve post-World Cup

Stephen Conroy - A-Leagues Chairman

For Stephen Conroy and the Australian Professional Leagues (APL), it has been a time of significant change.

In his new role as Independent Chair, Conroy has recently seen the departure of former Chief Executive Officer Danny Townsend, leaving A-Leagues Commissioner Nick Garcia and KEEPUP Managing Director James Rushton to lead the APL.

Ahead of launching the 2023/24 A-Leagues season, it has proved to be a very busy period for the APL in amongst the CEO change – with the reversal of the Grand Final decision, announcing the brand-new U-Nite Round to take place in Sydney, confirming the sale of Perth Glory and identifying the preferred bidder for the Auckland licence.

After bidding farewell to the APL’s inaugural CEO, the focus has shifted to restoring faith in the A-Leagues fanbase – as the men’s and women’s World Cups need to be the kick-starter for football in Australia.

Speaking at Melbourne Victory’s Chairman function at AAMI Park before the Round 2 match against Newcastle Jets, Conroy reflected on a whirlwind period for the APL and football as a whole.

“It’s an exciting time coming off the back of the exceptional performance of the Matildas,” Conroy said.

“The standalone women’s round for the Liberty A-League was hugely positive with the record crowd and atmosphere we saw at the Sydney Derby.

“You’re seeing the enthusiasm with 1.6 million Australians and two million New Zealanders watching the two respective nations play.

“In funny because people almost forget the Socceroos and how well they did at Qatar – we talk about 2006 and the Golden Generation, but genuinely the performance in this tournament was absolutely stunning.”

The record attendances and memberships have been a huge plus for Conroy and the APL, particularly for women’s teams with numbers reaching unprecedented levels.

“As an example we’ve already seen Melbourne Victory go past 20,000 for memberships, so that’s a huge tick,” he said.

“With record turnouts and memberships, we are getting the sense that it is really happening now for people around the country in football.

“There’s so much in front of us at the moment.”

An integral part of the APL has been KEEPUP, which has recently undergone a revamp to split A-Leagues content into its own site.

Conroy outlined the digital strategies behind KEEPUP which has been a major inclusion since the APL’s inception.

“KEEPUP was launched when we unbundled from Football Australia – recently people might have been wondering why the app has morphed back into A-Leagues,” he said.

“In the rush to unbundle, we didn’t own the rights to call it the A-League app, but now we’ve got that sorted.

“What we will now start to see is a more rich product and this turns eyeballs into bums on seats or viewing on TV.

“KEEPUP’s mission is to drive people to watch the game at the ground, through free to air or streaming.”

Conroy also linked back to the numbers we saw from the Women’s World Cup, and how that will be a motivator for future growth of the A-Leagues.

“For all of us that went to any of the World Cup matches, part of it was needing to download the FIFA app,” he said.

“As we saw earlier, there’s 1.6 million Australians who want to watch a game of football – so we’ll be sitting down with Football Australia to work out how to succeed together.

“What we want to see is which team people want to support, get them to more games in-person and turn more casual fans into fully-fledged members.”

KordaMentha Partner Scott Langdon on why the Newcastle Jets need long-term investment

McDonald Jones Stadium - Newcastle Jets

The sale of Newcastle Jets has been announced by the club’s Executive Chairman Shane Mattiske, where they have appointed professional services firm KordaMentha to oversee the formal process.

A consortium of parties formed in 2021 that was linked to other A-League clubs was initially started as a provisional measure to maintain the Club, to put out a team that could compete and strong growth during a challenging period for the Jets in the middle of the Covid crisis back in January 2021.

KordaMentha is an independent and reliable firm providing their knowledge on cybersecurity, forensic, financial crime, performance improvement, real estate and restructuring services across the Asia-Pacific region.

Fast forward to now, the owners of today have been responsible for the successes of the increasing membership signups, captivating more sponsors and developing a strong core of talent through the Youth Academy.`

KordaMentha Partner Scott Langdon spoke to Soccerscene – providing an insight of his involvement in the sale process, what he hopes to achieve for the club and the A-Leagues as well.

“The shareholders reached out to us a few weeks ago in relation into commencing a sale of the club – they considered at the time to put Newcastle Jets on the market and find a long-term owner, for someone that won’t be there for a short period of time,” he said.

“The current shareholders didn’t have the intention of being there long-term, so we need to be there for Newcastle to get them through a challenging period.

“Shane has done a great job in getting the club as a business back on its feet – it’s now in a position where it’s stabilised and it’s time for a long-term owner in a natural progression stage for the club.”

Langdon explained what he sees in Newcastle and why should someone should get behind them, tapping into the unique area they represent.

“In the last couple of weeks that l have been involved, it has been overwhelming, for the local community and the region that Newcastle has and the support for them,” he said.

“l think that whilst we are looking globally to find an owner and we are having conversations with people throughout the world, there is a great ability to connect within the Newcastle region which is a very passionate soccer region.”

“The strong local links to the community is another key reason why we’re involved, and it’s an exciting opportunity to be part of the process.”

As recently seen with Perth Glory and their new Australian consortium owners Primeland Group signing the contract, Langdon shared whether KordaMentha is looking for someone within Australia or abroad.

“We are definitely looking on a global stage for a long-term owner – we have attracted interest within our first 48 hours from around the globe,” he said.

“We are all focused on completing it by Christmas which we think is entirely achievable.”

Newcastle Jets now has highly competitive men’s and women’s A-League teams, underpinned by a strong academy containing 13 boys’ and girls’ teams delivering exciting talent into these squads.

It is now a key time for the club to follow suit with what has gone ahead at Perth Glory, to lock in a sustainable future.

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