W-League big winners in new CBA, as greater contract freedom for A-League clubs beckons

A new collective bargaining agreement has been struck between Professional Football Australia and the Australian Professional Leagues.

Equity in high-performance standards in the A-League and W-League, a 32% increase in the W-League salary cap floor and an increase in the A-League salary cap floor are the highlights of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) struck between Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and the Australian Professional Leagues (APL).

The new five-year deal was described as “ground-breaking” by a joint statement between the two bodies, in an announcement that highlights the newfound confidence in the economic environment for professional football in Australia.

Much of that confidence can be linked to the new five-year broadcast agreement with ViacomCBS and Network 10 and it is no surprise that this new CBA has been deliberately linked in length to the broadcast deal.

PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill explained that being able to achieve this agreement was a huge milestone for the professional game in Australia, after such a long period of uncertainty in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the end of the previous broadcasting deal with Fox Sports.

“The players’ vision for the negotiations was economic security and stability for the clubs, the leagues and the players. This agreement is a foundational step towards this objective and our leagues will be stronger as a result,” she said via the joint statement.

“It has been an incredibly challenging time for our game; however, we believe the CBA will provide a platform for our leagues to be re-launched and for a genuine partnership between the clubs and the players to be forged.

“I would like to acknowledge the work of Greg O’Rourke, Danny Townsend, Tracey Scott, Chris Pehlivanis and John Tsatsimas for their efforts and commitment during the negotiations and especially the players who participated so actively throughout.”

PFA President Alex Wilkinson noted the immense sacrifice made by many players to usher the game through the COVID-19 pandemic, which he says helped pave the way for this agreement.

“This generation of players, club owners and staff have been asked to make immense sacrifices to preserve our sport during unprecedented times,” he said.

“As a result of these sacrifices we have been able to take an important step forward and provide greater certainty for the clubs and players and make important progress in areas such as our high-performance environment, player welfare whilst further embedding our commitment to gender equity.”

Under the new CBA, genuine equity in high-performance standards in the A-League and W-League have been entrenched in order to create a “world-class workplace” for all of the country’s footballers.

This CBA will be the first to deliver common standards across higher performance and medical departments across both the W-League and the A-League.

Increases to minimum and maximum player payments are also factored in during the course of the five-year CBA with a particular focus on an increase to the W-League salary floor, providing another massive boost on the back of the recently announced expansion of the competition to also include Central Coast Mariners, Wellington Phoenix and Western United.

There will also be a reformed contracting model that allows for greater capacity in squad investment for clubs, with an allowance for up to two “Designated Player” spots, which will allow clubs to invest between $300,000 and $600,000 in players whose salaries will be excluded from the A-League salary cap.

These “Designated Players” will be in addition to the current exemptions, such as “Marquee Players”.

Furthermore, there will also be greater capacity for clubs to contract youth players with an increase in the cap on scholarship players.

The CBA also provides for guaranteed funding for player welfare and development programs, as well as greater support for the PFA Past Players Program.

APL Managing Director Danny Townsend said the deal was proof that the APL was living up to its promise of greater investment since taking control of Australia’s professional leagues.

“When APL took control of the leagues, we promised it would herald a new era of investment and this agreement shows the progress that has already been made,” he said in a statement.

“This is a clear example of what can be achieved when we work together with a common vision to realise the potential of Australian football.”

APL Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke added the investments would help clubs deliver a much-improved on-field product.

“Players are partners with us in the game and central to its growth. Having all of our partners on-board with the re-imagined future of the game is vital, and this agreement marks an important milestone in our new relationship,” he said.

“There will be immediate improvements across the men’s and women’s leagues, most notably for women’s football, all of which will flow through into improved experiences for players, and ultimately into growing and improving our game.”

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.

Football Coaches Australia congratulates Ernie Merrick on his appointment as Football Australia’s Chief Football Officer

Ernie Merrick

Football Coaches Australia (FCA) has strongly endorsed Football Australia’s appointment of Ernie Merrick OAM as (the inaugural) Chief Football Officer.

FCA – Australia’s national Association for supporting qualified coaches at professional, semi-professional and community levels – welcomed the news, having witnessed first-hand the outstanding work the former premiership and championship-winning A-League Men’s coach has contributed as an FCA Ambassador over the past 12 months.

FCA acknowledged the privilege and an honour of having Ernie as an FCA Ambassador and wished him all the success in his new role – a critical one for taking the game in Australia to new heights, coming in at a time of unprecedented opportunity for our code.

The representative body for football coaches in Australia noted Ernie’s leadership and ability to bring people together and simplify the complex as standout traits during his time with FCA, further adding that these attributes were no doubt major contributing factors to his successful tenure as Chief Football Officer at FA.

Ernie was also a part of the FCA Technical Committee and delivered online and face-to-face professional development workshops to aspiring coaches.

FCA looks forward to working with him at Football Australia to advance Advocacy, Professional development, Equity and Well-being on behalf of coaches.

Phil Moss, Football Coaches Australia President, stated:

“This is a brilliant appointment on so many levels for Australian football and we applaud FA CEO James Johnston, his executive leadership team and the board for returning a football person of Ernie’s experience, expertise and standing in the game – and Australian sport more broadly – to a position of real influence.

“Ernie’s coaching, mentoring and leadership CV speaks for itself and the work he has done as an FCA ambassador has been outstanding. His willingness to engage with coaches and stakeholders to share his knowledge has benefitted so many with a passion for Australian football that is second to none.

“We couldn’t be happier for Ernie on his appointment to this new and exciting role. 

“We genuinely and collectively thank Ernie for his significant contribution to our organization and look forward to working closely with him to ensure coaches continue to be enabled to play a key part in taking the game forward.”

Since FCA’s inception, the organisation have always sought to elevate a ‘coaches voice’ to FIFA and Football Australia’s decision-making levels. FCA founder(s) and former board members and Ambassadors have transitioned into roles at FIFA (James Kitching and Belinda Wilson) and Football Australia (Heather Garriock, Ron Smith and now Ernie Merrick).

Macarthur FC announce ALAND as major partner

Macarthur FC

Macarthur FC has announced ALAND as a major partner for the next two seasons.

ALAND is one of Sydney’s largest and leading private groups working within development, construction, finance, and property management.

Established in 2002, ALAND has delivered more than 3,800 dwellings in Western Sydney, and currently has more than 1200 homes under construction.

In what comes as a boost for the club, ALAND’s logo will feature on the front of the Bulls during their Australia Cup campaign and upcoming 2022/23 Isuzu UTE A-League season.

Macarthur FC Group CEO Sam Krslovic acknowledged the partnership as a great fit for both the club and ALAND.

“We’re thrilled to be linking up with ALAND,” he said in a statement released by the club.

“We have an ambitious vision for the club and we believe ALAND will be a key partner on this journey.”

ALAND Founder Andrew Hrsto added he was delighted to be supporting the Club as it continued to make its mark.

“Football was always a big part of my upbringing – it was culturally very significant and a lot of Socceroos came from where I grew up, so it’s a real privilege to be getting involved in this way,” he said via Macarthur FC.

“We’re excited to be getting behind this young club and watch it grow from strength to strength. The passion the people of the South West have for their football, and their community is infectious, and we look forward to a long and successful relationship.”

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