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Phil Moss: Australian football coaches deserve better

Phil Moss

Former Central Coast Mariners coach Phil Moss claims football coaches in Australia deserve more respect and a higher level of support.

Speaking exclusively to Soccerscene, the former A-League coach claimed associations such as Football Coaches Australia (FCA), which he is currently president of, will improve the conditions and reputation of coaches in Australia.

“I think the main aim (of FCA) is to wrap coaches with a support mechanism, give them a collective voice and really drive towards a level of respect for coaches that we haven’t seen in this country,” he said.

“We’re always the easy option when things go wrong.

“There’s an old saying, when the team’s going well the players are great, but when the team’s losing it’s because the coach doesn’t know what he is doing.”

Moss had various coaching stints in his career at Dee Why FC, Northern Spirit youth (assistant), Manly United and the Olyroos (assistant) before moving to the Mariners in 2010.

He took over from Graham Arnold after being an assistant coach for the club in the three years prior, which included a championship winning season in 2012-2013.

Moss led the Mariners to a third placed finish in his first season as head coach in 2013-14.

However, he was eventually sacked near the end of his second season in charge after disagreements with the owner.

“We had a fantastic first season, we had a lot of success, we missed the grand final by one game,” Moss said.

“We also missed out on the second round of the ACL by a point and then we sold a lot of players. In the January transfer window of the following season, I think I lost six players in that period and that proved to be really tough.

“Things spiralled out a bit from there and the owner and I fell out. There was only going to be one winner in that situation.”

Moss believes a lack of appropriate professional support at the time of his removal, planted the seeds for his eventual involvement in FCA.

Central Coast ended up compensating Moss in the region of around $500,000 according to The Daily Telegraph, after his case for wrongful dismissal was settled before a court date. (Moss would go on to be an assistant coach at Sydney FC in 2017).

“I had my family, my closest friends, my mobile phone and a pretty good lawyer and that was it. That’s where FCA sort of morphed from.

“My mantra is to make sure no Australian coach is ever in the same situation I was in. Plenty of others before me were in (that situation) with no real support.”

Steps in the right direction have been taken to improve the employment conditions and general well-being of coaches through work driven by the association.

FCA recently released the findings of a study completed by the University of Queensland on these factors.

The report showcases data which highlights the need for contractual guidelines to be implemented, as well as standardising grievance and dispute resolution procedures, among other things.

FCA hopes to address these issues and move quickly into a process to fix them.

“We’re fighting for better conditions for coaches and probably a bit more uniformity,” claimed Moss.

“We are working hard on a well-being program for coaches, to support coaches in and out of jobs and in that transition into a job and out of a job. So, all those things are really important to us.”

The association was also in contact with the FFA and A-League clubs, before the start of this A-League season.

Greg O’Rourke and the FFA were kind enough to give us a slot during their agenda with the coaches.

“That was an opportunity for us to ask the coaches what their issues were, going into the season.

“We’re in the process of sharing that information with FFA and working through that, and not just with the FFA but obviously the new operating company of the independent A-league.”

The organisation has a seat at the table in the discussion for the introduction of a national second division, thanks to FFA Board member Remo Nogarotto.

Nogarotto is the current chair of the National Second Division Working Group.

Moss is thankful for FCA’s inclusion in the conversation, in what will provide elite Australian coaches with more job opportunities in the future.

“Full credit to Remo and his working group, for seeing it fit to include coaches.

“At the end of the day, coaches are responsible for the happiness and the satisfaction of four key stakeholders, the ownership and boards, the dressing room, the fans and the media.

“So, when you’ve got that sort of vested interest in the game, holistically, it seems really illogical not to have coaches part of the discussion and part of the decision-making process around the game.”

After being formally elected as president of FCA in July 2018, Moss was re-elected at an AGM in August of this year, in what was a proud moment for him.

Speaking about the privilege of leading FCA, Moss said: “It’s a massive honour. Probably aside from coaching in the A-League as a head coach, it’s right up there.”

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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 partners with Qukes

Football Australia has announced that Qukes Baby Cucumbers have signed an agreement to become a partner of the MiniRoos grassroots program, as well as an official supplier of the Socceroos and Matildas.

The deal will run for two years, with Qukes set to help deliver the MiniRoos program nationally.

Qukes Baby Cucumbers will be promoted as an ideal healthy sporting snack for Australian footballers of all ages, under the details of the partnership.

MiniRoos branding will also be present on Qukes’ product packaging across Australia.

Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, detailed the importance of the governing body’s new partnership with Perfection Fresh via the Qukes brand: “Football has a participation base of nearly two (2) million Australians – including nearly a quarter of a million participants in the MiniRoos bracket – and can act as a powerful vehicle to deliver positive messages to the Australian community,” he said.

“With the 2021 MiniRoos season just a couple of months from kick-off, we’re proud to have partnered with Perfection Fresh and, in doing so, welcome another important corporate partner to our football family.

“The Australian football community is at the heart of the sport and vital to the ongoing growth and popularity of the sport in Australia. This agreement ensures that young players and their parents around Australia will be delivered important healthy eating messages and content, and, in the spirit of truly integrated and aligned marketing partnerships, we’re pleased to have Perfection Fresh Australia’s commitment to promote football via its national marketing initiatives. Soon the MiniRoos brand will live on over two million Qukes packages in supermarkets and grocers across Australia, while from next week MiniRoos branding will be beamed into up to 5.5 million households across the nation via a new Qukes television commercial.”

Perfection Fresh Australia Chief Executive Officer, Michael Simonetta, said: “We’re really excited to establish Qukes Baby Cucumbers as the perfect sporting snack for Aussie kids. Our partnership with Football Australia and the MiniRoos allows us to reach the next generation of fresh produce consumers, educating them on the benefits of fresh produce, healthy eating and regular activity.

“We want to get kids ‘Qrunching’ on Qukes and football as an inclusive, grassroots and community sport is the perfect partner. It touches the lives of many Australian families across the country and the Football Australia values TOGETHER, DIVERSE & UNITING really resonate with our brands and business as a whole.”

 

A new year brings optimism for Australian football

Stadiums have been forced to adapt during the pandemic, introducing new procedures and innovations allowing fans to attend matches safely.

As always in Australian football, 2021 is set to be a big year.

After a year which was continually disrupted by a global pandemic, the game’s future seems to be much brighter in 2021. Here are some of the reasons why:

An Independent A-League and W-League

After years of infighting, the A-League and W-League were finally unbundled from Football Australia on the last day of 2020.

A new organisation of A-League club owners, under the moniker of Australian Professional Leagues (APL), will now take over the operational, commercial and marketing control of both leagues.

Essentially, the league’s power brokers will now have more incentive to invest and market the leagues as they now have the impetus to attract and organise their own business dealings.

Chair of APL and co-owner of the Western Sydney Wanderers, Paul Lederer, spoke of the importance of the deal: “This is an historic moment for the future of football in Australia – for the fan, for the player, for the whole game.

“It’s now time to earn and deliver the future our game deserves. The handbrake on the game is off; owners can finally invest in what they own and create value for the entire footballing ecosystem.

“Players can plan their careers in Australian football, fans can reconnect with the game that they love, and clubs can create meaningful moments for the whole Australian football family.”

Domestic Transfer System

One of Football Australia’s ‘XI Principles’ outlined the need to stimulate and grow the Australian football economy, with the establishment of a new and modern domestic transfer system mooted as a proposed measure.

Last week Football Australia released a Domestic Transfer System White Paper, which will set the wheels in motion to revamp the current model into one which falls in-line with the rest of the global game.

It’s an area where Australian football is falling behind, with FIFA reporting in 2019 that Australian clubs only received US$1.9 million in international transfer fees, compared to other Asian nations like Japan who garnered US$29.4 million.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson has placed significant importance on the issue and the implementation of a proper domestic transfer system will finally reward a broad range of clubs across the Australian football pyramid.

“The establishment of a modern Domestic Transfer System in 2021 by Football Australia will seek to remedy the ‘gap’ that has been created in the Australian football ecosystem by providing opportunities to progressive clubs at all levels of the sport to generate new revenue streams which can be deployed into the ongoing training and development of players, and the clubs themselves,” he said.

“We believe that the implementation of a fit-for-purpose system will have transformational benefits for football in Australia and particularly our professional and grassroots clubs by reconnecting the game and stimulating growth,” Johnson concluded.

National Second Division

The Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) is set to release a report on the progress of their plans for a national second division in the coming days, in a move which should enthuse the Australian football public.

A national second division (eventually with promotion and relegation) will bring a range of benefits to the football system here and will be a unique identifier which separates the game from a range of other sports played on our shores.

There does seem to be some hesitance from A-League clubs however, to immediately green-light a national second division.

Chair of the APL, Paul Lederer, recently stated that a national second division wouldn’t eventuate within the next two years, claiming that expanding the A-League to 16 teams was a more urgent priority.

Speaking with Box2Box, AAFC Chairman Nick Galatas responded to Lederer’s comments. “It doesn’t really bother us much because I don’t think the issue will come down to Paul in the end. It’s not really about him”, he said.

“I was surprised to hear the comments, I’ve got to say, but equally had he said the opposite, it wouldn’t have mattered much either.

Ultimately, the decision will come down to Football Australia as the APL does not have the appropriate regulatory functions.

The current FA administration is much more willing than previous administrations to introduce a second tier, previously listing the need to continue the development of a framework for a national second division, in their ‘XI Principles’ document last year.

New Broadcast Deal

Fox Sports re-negotiated their TV deal with the A-League and other Australian football properties when the competition went into shutdown during the COVID pandemic.

The deal was reduced in both dollars and length, with Fox Sports paying just over $30 million for a one-year agreement which runs out in July of this year.

There is a possibility that Fox may pass on extending that deal, but that does present the game with opportunities to seek out a new broadcast partner or to take things into their own hands and build up their own streaming service.

The game’s TV deal with the ABC is also set to expire this year, with the need to find the right balance between free-to-air exposure and broadcast revenue becoming increasingly important.

New potential broadcasters that may be interested in striking an agreement include:

Optus Sport: Currently have the rights to competitions such as the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, J-League and K-League,

Stan Sport: Recently entered the market by signing a deal with Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition and are reportedly interested in securing the NBL rights in the future.

DAZN: Have started to dip their toes into the Australian landscape through other sports, after broadcasting football in multiple countries across the world.

Whatever the case, Australian football does seem to have options outside of Fox Sports, who have broadcasted the A-League for the past 16 seasons.

With many exciting possibilities to look forward to, the game should be in a stronger place by the end of 2021.

Football Australia announces Domestic Transfer System White Paper

Football Australia have announced the release of their Domestic Transfer System Transformation White Paper.

Developed throughout the fourth quarter of last year, the White Paper will be discussed and consulted with key football stakeholders over the coming months.

Principle III of Football Australia’s XI Principles identified the need for stimulation and growth of the Australian football economy, with a new modern domestic transfer system earmarked as a proposed measure.

The White Paper identifies several key elements of a properly functioning transfer system for consideration and discussion in the context of transforming the domestic transfer system.

These include:

  1. Administration of Transfers
  2. Training Rewards and Young Players
  3. Loans
  4. Player Eligibility Rules
  5. Registration Windows
  6. Transfer Fees
  7. Special Provisions Relating to Contracts
  8. Agents
  9. Dispute Resolution and Player Status Resolution
  10. Private Academies; and
  11. Recent amendments by FIFA (Coaches and Women)

Football Australia will conduct a planned engagement process with clubs, players and other members of the football community early this year.

Football Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson, said of the developments: “2020 was a difficult year.  Despite this, Football Australia took the opportunity to return to its football core and saw the organisation take transformative steps which culminated in the establishment of a bold and innovative vision for the game in the form of the XI Principles.

“To highlight a significant year for the game in 2020, we also successfully secured hosting rights for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, underwent an internal reshaping to ensure we are ready to implement our strategic agenda, renamed the organisation, revamped the FFA Cup and recently announced the unbundling of the Professional Leagues,” Johnson added. 

“The publication of the White Paper, following the Transfer System webinars late last year, is another significant step as we look to bring to life the XI Principles and we are excited to lead with this strategic initiative in 2021.

Johnson outlined the importance of the creation of a modern domestic transfer system, explaining it is a vital link in the Australian football landscape. He believes Football Australia’s role in regulating both the Professional Leagues and growing the game more broadly, will create many more benefits in the football ecosystem. 

“The absence of a domestic transfer system has meant that Australian football has been unable to fully integrate into world football by embedding itself in the global football market which has led to lost economic and sporting opportunities for our game over many years,” Johnson said.

“In 2019, FIFA reported that Australia received just US$1.9 million in transfer receipts from a market currently valued at US$7.35 billion for men alone. This low figure received by Australian clubs is in stark contrast to many nations of a similar or lower international ranking than our National Teams, and to many countries with significantly smaller populations than Australia. It also highlights that Australian clubs, from the professional right down to the grassroots, are missing out on vital funds that could be used to underpin and enhance the sport.

“The establishment of a modern Domestic Transfer System in 2021 by Football Australia will seek to remedy the ‘gap’ that has been created in the Australian football ecosystem by providing opportunities to progressive clubs at all levels of the sport to generate new revenue streams which can be deployed into the ongoing training and development of players, and the clubs themselves.

“We believe that the implementation of a fit-for-purpose system will have transformational benefits for football in Australia and particularly our professional and grassroots clubs by reconnecting the game and stimulating growth,” Johnson concluded.

The Domestic Transfer System Transformation White Paper can be viewed here.

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