PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill on the discussions leading up to Collective Bargaining Agreement

Kathryn Gill

The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between Football Australia and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) was recently formed for 2023-2027, bolstering the future for the Socceroos and Matildas.

The CBA will put a number of key changes and initiatives in place – namely payments, commercial partnerships, gender equality, work-life balance and life after football.

As a former Matildas captain, PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill has been the perfect role model for those rising up through the ranks, and also in her leadership to turn this CBA into reality.

She spoke with Soccerscene to outline the key milestones achieved for the new CBA and what we can look forward to over the four-year duration.

The path towards the 50:50 payments and the key conversations that made it happen:

Kathryn Gill: Women’s football has undergone a global explosion over the past four to five years. When we signed the previous collective bargaining agreement in 2019, the women’s game was threatening to reach new heights, and our gender equal model reflected that trend.

In 2023, we needed the new agreement to reflect this new reality, and most players were comfortable moving away from a centralised contract structure to a meritocratic payment model, mirroring the Socceroos’ match payments.

Players provided direct feedback in player meetings, steering committee meetings, and in the negotiations with FA to share their views.

The outcome was that the players now have a payment model that incentivises performances, creates competitive tension within the team, and is a fit-for-purpose gender-equal payment structure in line with the Socceroos.

There is still work to do to increase player salaries in club football, but we are hopeful that it will continue to grow in line with global trends.

How revenues will benefit the Australian football community with programs for current and former players:

Kathryn Gill: Under the CBA, a percentage of the players’ share of revenue is redirected into player development support programs and services, which are vital to the ongoing support of players and ensure that football remains a sport of choice for Australian athletes. That money is to support the current national team players. However, for the first time, the CBA guarantees investment in our past players via legacy funding from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

That funding will ensure our players can stay in their careers longer, help them to prepare for life after football, and enable the PFA and FA to invest in areas that will allow us to support our retired and former professional players better.

The importance of giving back towards the PFA Footballers’ Trust:

Kathryn Gill: Players are deeply passionate about many issues within football and society, from reducing the cost of football to climate change and human rights. Their aim is to make the Footballers’ Trust the most impactful sports charity in Australia. The CBA is a great vehicle to foster the players’ commitment by building a deeper level of impact on many existing and new initiatives across the next four years of the agreement.

There were 40 players in the negotiation process, was there anyone in particular that stood out in discussions?

Kathryn Gill: The CBA is the players’ agreement, so as many players as possible in and around the national teams provided their input into their deal.

The players were constantly at the table and in the negotiations, even though many had to join from overseas at various hours of the morning or evening.

Our Executive Committee Members in particular – Andrew Redmayne, Lydia Williams, Tameka Yallop, Elise Kellond-Knight, Jackson Irvine and Mat Ryan – were deeply involved given their representative roles with the union.

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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Noddy: The Untold Story of Adrian Alston – a review of Philip Micallef’s book

When former Socceroo great, Adrian Alston, took a leap of faith and departed Preston in the north of England and ventured to Wollongong in January 1968, he could never have imagined how his life would change forever.

However, Jim Kelly, the former Blackpool and England B international, who had played with the late and great Sir Stanley Matthews, knew his man and was instrumental in the new life Alston forged for him and his family.

Kelly had become part of football folklore on the South Coast after South Coast United defeated favourites Apia Leichhardt 4-0 in the 1963 NSW Federation Grand Final in front of an Australian record club crowd of 30,500.

Consequently, when Kelly brought his prodigy to the South Coast of NSW, he unknowingly created a football pathway for Alston which he still reflects on with immense pride and gratitude.

There is a constant message in the book, written by Philip Micallef, that Alston never forgot the people who assisted him in rising to the highest level of football, fulfilled by playing all over the globe and representing his chosen country in 37 full internationals, including the World Cup Finals of 1974 in Germany.

When Alston was selected in his first international against Greece in 1969, he stated he was no longer a Pommie – but green and gold through and through.

Critically, he knew that Australia was now the place he would always call home and after travelling the world with the Socceroos, playing in the 1974 World Cup Finals  in Germany and  in the English 1st Division with Luton Town, rubbing shoulders with the greats of world football including Pele, Beckenbauer, Chinaglia, Rodney Marsh, George Best and Johan Cruyff in the North American Soccer League before a serious injury forced him to retire from playing at the tender age of thirty, this fact became more evident.

Ironically, when he returned to England after his playing career finished, Alston really couldn’t settle down  and when his young son, Adrian junior, asked when the family was returning to Australia, it was enough to influence Alston and his family to jet back to Wollongong.

Life after football can be very challenging for some but Alston took to coaching like a duck to water and the book documents in detail his coaching stints in the Illawarra during the 1980’s and 1990’s where he achieved considerable success.

However, his greatest loyalty was to the 1974 Socceroo squad and the last chapter of the book is devoted to his coach, the late Rale Rasic.

This book is just not about the footballer, Noddy Alston, but the man who took a chance in life to explore new surroundings when he came to Australia to begin the voyage of a lifetime.

There are a number of subplots in the book which make fascinating reading like Noddy’s procurement of Franz Beckenbauer’s shirt before the Socceroo’s World Cup match against West Germany in 1974.

The book will not only appeal  to people who followed Noddy’s career closely but to supporters of the game who admire determination and God given ability in professional footballers.

For those who don’t know Noddy’s story, particularly the younger generation and those who are the standard bearers of our game, it’s a must read.

Strategic Plan 2023-2026 launched by Football West

Football West Strategic Plan

Football West recently announced the launch of their 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, a documentation affiliated with Football Australia’s One Football Strategy that will set the direction for football in Western Australia for the coming years.

The plan will see Football West improve the game under five essential departments:

  • Participants and Clubs
  • Elite Teams and Pathways
  • Fans
  • Unifying Football
  • Asia and the Sam Kerr Football Centre

Participants and Clubs

The first pillar has the aim to make Football the most accessible sport in Western Australia where everyone can play anytime, anywhere.

There are key targets set such as: Increase registrations by 5% per annum, increase participation by 3% per annum and have 95% of clubs and associations with a completed affiliation agreement (presently 82%).

Another key focus is the development of women and girls football which isn’t surprising after the recent Women’s World Cup success. Football West set a goal of 42,500 additional women & girls playing football across the three year plan.

Elite Teams and Pathways

This pillar focuses simply on the development of talent at all ages in a bid to improve the quality of the game in Western Australia.

The focus areas are Delivery of a state-wide Football West Academy program, Frequent and consistent talent identification opportunities and High quality coach development pathway

Fans

Football West is focusing on optimising the fan experience and grassroots to improve attendance numbers and social media engagement.

Unifying Football

They will develop a resourcing model that allows for the servicing of responsibilities between Football Australia and Football West, formalised in a Service Agreement

Asia and the Sam Kerr Football Centre

Football West will look to improve international exchanges with Asian countries and use the Sam Kerr Football Centre to secure sponsorships and play big matches there by 2026.

Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes mentioned the vision that the federation has for the future of football across all levels.

“We are excited to present the Strategic Plan to the WA football community. This is a vision that will see football move forward in tandem with Football Australia but with a strong WA focus,” Andrawes said in a statement.

“Football is in a great position across the state. We saw during the FIFA Women’s World Cup and, more recently, when the CommBank Matildas played in Perth, that our sport is unique in its widespread appeal. This passion can be felt across all areas of the game.

“We want to be bold and ambitious, and the Strategic Plan gives us a strong base from which to deliver on that.”

Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell was excited to announce how the Strategic Plan would be implemented successfully.

“This Strategic Plan is a real statement of intent and one we are proud to deliver. Harnwell mentioned in a Football West statement.

“Football is more popular than it has ever been in Western Australia, in terms of participation, inclusivity and popularity, and we should all be proud of this. However, we cannot rest on our laurels.

“As a governing body, we want to make our game even more accessible, so we can inspire a new generation to love football. That comes through hard work, consultation and direction, all of which are key to the Strategic Plan.”

The Strategic Plan is well set out and focuses on the current struggles the federation is having at grassroots level. Partnering closely with Football Australia will help them achieve the ambitious goals set out to improve both the state and national foundation.

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