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Player sentiment up, average age down: PFA releases annual report

Sentiment is well and truly up for A-League players, according to the annual Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) report.

This time last year, only 33% of A-League players felt confident about the direction of their football careers.

According to the PFA’s latest annual report, that number is now 56%.

Of the A-League’s 312 players, 200 responded to the 2020/21 A-League survey, capturing 70% of the current cohort, with the results proving that even despite the ongoing turbulence and uncertainty of COVID-19, the majority of players feel much more confident about their futures within the game.

The report highlights that Australian players actively want to remain in the A-League, as opposed to seeking opportunities overseas.

The key numbers that demonstrate this include:

  • 55% of players said they would like to stay playing in the A-League next season, up from 45% last year.
  • 56% of players are confident about the direction of their football careers, compared to 33% in 2019/20.
  • Only 4% of players would move to an overseas league even if it was for similar money and/or playing standard.
  • Only 16% of players who would prefer to move to an overseas league would only do so if the money and standards were better.

Other highlights of the report include that the average A-League player is getting younger.

Over the last 14 years, the average age of the A-League player has consistently trended upwards.

In 2020/21, however, this changed and the average age trended downwards, dropping from 27.6 to 25.1.

The number of players utilised in the A-League who were aged 21 and under came in at 107, representing 35% of the 300 players who received A-League minutes during the 2020/21 season.

The youngest squads on average belonged to Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, with average ages of 23.6 and 23.9 years respectively.

Another highlight was the fact that of the league’s 312 contracted players, 300 received A-League minutes.

“These reports have been immensely valuable, helping the PFA and the players better understand the industry in which they are employed, monitor the application of high-performance standards, assess technical progress and survey the players’ experience,” PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said of the report.

“For the last five years, we have been able to utilise these reports to formulate evidence-based positions to improve the environments in which our members work through collective bargaining.

“Promisingly, after a period of significant uncertainty, the players have indicated that they are more confident in the direction of their careers and the future of the competition than this time last year, signifying a positive shift in the perception of the A-League.”

The report also highlights the fact that A-League attendances were the lowest ever in the competition, thanks in large part to COVID-19, with an average attendance of 5,660.

Foreign players in the league reduced by 12 to a total of 51, whilst the average salary in the A-League is $136,791.

Access the full report HERE.

Matthew Galea is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

FIFA’s commercial partnership structure unlocks opportunities

FIFA has introduced a new commercial partnership structure that will provide companies worldwide with increased opportunities to partner with soccer.

For the first time in eight years, FIFA has introduced a new commercial partnership structure that will provide companies worldwide with increased opportunities to partner with soccer.

Three partnership variables have been launched which include women’s football, men’s football and Esports/gaming. As a starting point, brands will now be able to negotiate dedicated partnerships with women’s football and Esports.

FIFA are building on their Women’s Football strategy implemented from 2018, by launching a dedicated women’s soccer commercial vertical to show their commitment to making soccer more accessible for women and girls across the globe. Their main aim from this vertical is to accelerate the growth and equality of the women’s game.

As for opportunities that provides for Australia, it could be a key driver for broadening the business side in women’s soccer, as well as the ever-growing Esports.

FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer, Sarai Bareman:

“This marks a groundbreaking moment to maximise the growth of the women’s game and its marketing appeal, as we create equal commercial models across Women’s and Men’s Football for the first time,” she said.

“We’re excited about the opportunities for brands who want to support women’s sport, help accelerate women’s equality, and wish to align themselves with the unparalleled momentum around women’s football.”

A dedicated partnerships structure for Esports will allow FIFA to further broaden its gaming footprint. The structure provides exciting opportunities to participate in one of the world’s fastest growing markets.

Overall, FIFA’s new partnership structure includes the following:

  • All partners will receive extensive global commercial rights across national team tournaments.
  • Sponsors will receive global activation rights surrounding the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the FIFA World Cup and/or across all FIFAe competitions.
  • Tournament Supporters will be able to select territorial activation rights for any of the above listed tournaments.
  • FIFA partners continue to hold the highest level of association with global partner status and category exclusivity across competitions.
  • FIFA’s new commercial approach will enable brands to benefit from new opportunities to associate with FIFA’s brand for business-driven purposes

FIFA Chief Commercial Officer, Kay Madati, on the impact these changes will make:

“As we continually work to make football truly global, accessible and inclusive, we recognised the need for a nimble and customisable commercial structure that enables brands big and small, global and local, to connect with all aspects of the beautiful game,” he said.

“The new model will allow our partners to create more tailored programming and marketing activations that align directly with their strategic business goals, and connect them to the world’s most passionate fans, in the world’s most engaging sport.”

28 Australian Match Officials recognised by FIFA for 2022

Football Australia has announced that 28 of Australia's Match Officials have been appointed to FIFA's Panel of International Referees.

Football Australia has announced that 28 of Australia’s Match Officials have been appointed to FIFA’s Panel of International Referees for 2022.

The list includes Referees, Assistant referees, Futsal referees, and Video Match Officials – all of whom are enabled to officiate FIFA sanctioned tournaments and fixtures.

The list includes four new Australian match officials, featuring two match referees and two assistant referees. They are Daniel Elder and Adam Kersey from the Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s competition, and assistant referees Lauren Hargrave and Kearney Robinson respectively.

With all officials becoming debutants on FIFA’s esteemed list, it serves as recognition on a worldwide scale.

Football Australian Chairman and Chair of Football Australia Referees Committee, Chris Nikou:

“Australian match officials have always been highly regarded within the global football landscape and it is pleasing to see that FIFA has continued to recognise this through the appointment of 28 Australians to the Panel of International Referees for 2022,” he said.

“Congratulations to the new additions to the panel in Daniel (Elder), Adam (Kersey), Lauren (Hargrave), and Kearney (Robinson).”

Football Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson:

“Refereeing remains a key focus for Football Australia, and it is pleasing to see Australian Match Officials once again recognised by FIFA. We congratulate all the 2022 Panel or their opportunity to represent Australian football on the global stage,” he said.“With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ now just 11 months away and a home Women’s World Cup™ in 2023, it is an exciting time for Australian refereeing and football more broadly.”

Four other Australian match officials are also being acknowledged for their selection to officiate in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022. Referees Casey Reibelt, Lara Lee, Kate Jacewicz, and Assistant Referee Joanna Charaktis will represent Australia in India over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, seasoned Australian referees Matthew Cream and Renae Coghill called time on their international refereeing careers at the end of 2021.

The full list of Australian Match Officials selected for FIFA’s Panel of International Referees for 2022 is below:

Name

Role

FIFA International Since

Kurt AMS

Referee

2019

Jonathan BARREIRO

Referee

2019

Christopher BEATH

Referee

2011

Rebecca DURCAU

Referee

2017

Daniel ELDER

Referee

2022

Shaun EVANS

Referee

2017

Kate JACEWICZ

Referee

2011

Adam KERSEY

Referee

2022

Alexander KING

Referee

2020

Lara LEE

Referee

2019

Casey REIBELT

Referee

2014

Ashley BEECHAM

Assistant Referee

2013

Joanna CHARAKTIS

Assistant Referee

2019

Ryan GALLAGHER

Assistant Referee

2016

Owen GOLDRICK

Assistant Referee

2018

Lance GREENSHIELDS

Assistant Referee

2019

Lauren HARGRAVE

Assistant Referee

2022

Sarah HO

Assistant Referee

2004

George LAKRINDIS

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew LINDSAY

Assistant Referee

2019

Nathan MACDONALD

Assistant Referee

2012

Laura MOYA

Assistant Referee

2017

Kearney ROBINSON

Assistant Referee

2022

Anton SHCHETININ

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew BEST

Futsal Referee

2017

Jonathon MOORE

Futsal Referee

2018

Ryan SHEPHEARD

Futsal Referee

2009

Darius TURNER

Futsal Referee

2013

Note: Match Officials listed in bold are recognised as FIFA Video Match Officials (VMOs).

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