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Winner of FFA Cup to qualify for AFC Champions League

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today announced that any team who wins the FFA Cup from 2021 will be granted entry to one of the AFC Champions League preliminary round slots among key changes to Australia’s largest annual club-based sporting competition.

After Covid-19 halted proceedings this year, the FFA Cup will return in 2021 with adjustments made to improve and enhance the excitement associated with the competition, particularly as clubs from all levels have the chance to make their mark against Asia’s best.

Here are all the details for the 2021 FFA Cup:

  • Preliminary Rounds to be held between February and July next year, with the Final Rounds planned to be played between July and November – match details to be confirmed.
  • FFA Cup Semi-Finals & Final earmarked to be on stand-alone weekends for the first time. Final to be played at neutral venue.
  • FFA Cup Final Rounds will feature an open draw for the first time – generating more competitive tension and uncertainty.
  • FFA Cup 2021 winner to be awarded a preliminary round slot representing Australia in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League*.
  • FFA Cup Final Rounds Slot Allocation for A-League clubs and Member Federations to remain unchanged.
  • FFA Cup Final Rounds Play-Off matches between the bottom four (4) placed A-League clubs from the A-League 2020/21 season will be played to determine the final two (2) A-League teams to enter the Round of 32.
  • Wollongong Wolves (NPL 2019 Champions) will be granted entry into the FFA Cup 2021 Final Rounds. Wollongong missed out in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Principle IV of our XI Principles speaks to the ongoing optimisation of Australia’s competition structures and ensuring that Australia’s football pyramid is aligned and connected,” FFA Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said.

“The FFA Cup is unique amongst all other sporting competitions in Australia in that a team of builders, electricians and office-workers might get the chance to compete against five-time A-League Champions Sydney FC.

“These changes to the FFA Cup from 2021 onwards demonstrate FFA’s commitment to not only enhancing the FFA Cup for the enjoyment of our football community, but to provide players and clubs at all levels of the game with the opportunity to aspire to represent Australia on the global stage.

“Playing the FFA Cup Final on a stand-alone weekend will enable the FFA Cup Final to develop its own identity within the national football calendar, and we envisage that an array of events – such as a national football conference or a national football weekend festival – can in the future be held in parallel with the FFA Cup Final.

“Furthermore, we believe that by connecting the FFA Cup Final with a variety of supporting football-focused events, we can engage a wide cross-section of the football community and make the event an increasingly attractive proposition to host cities and Governments.”

765 clubs had registered for the 2020 version of the FFA Cup and Johnson is confident these clubs will return.

“Next year’s FFA Cup Preliminary Rounds will be held much like in years gone by, however we are moving to adjust the structure of the Round of 32 – where professional A-League clubs enter the competition – into four geographic Zones,” he said.

“These Zones will promote local rivalries and competitive tension, and for the first time will feature an open draw to determine matches.

“The open draw will continue to feature right through to the semi-final stage, ensuring that there’s absolute uncertainty when the draw for each round of the competition is staged.” 

Liam Watson is a Senior Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on international football policy, industry matters and industry 4.0

Football NSW grants webinar to aid clubs and associations

FNSW

Football NSW in conjunction with ‘The Grants Guy’ are set to premiere a free Grants Zoom online webinar next Wednesday (September 22) at 6:30pm – 7:30pm.

FNSW clubs and associations will be provided with valuable information through the grants webinar, especially for applying for funding which have assisted many teams in the past in their pursuit of seeking facility upgrades amongst various other beneficial elements.

The webinar will provide a practical guide to grant writing for any football club seeking to attain funding by applying for the Greater Cities Sport Facility Fund and the Regional Sport Facility Fund in particular.

Both grants will be explained through the practical step by step webinar, and guidance will be provided as to how to apply for the Grants.

The following topics will be discussed:

  • How to apply for the grant – the do’s and don’ts
  • Eligibility & Answering the Question
  • Project Assessment, Evaluation, Rationale, Methodology
  • Budget & Acquittal
  • Getting Grant Ready and Planning your Club’s Application

For the Greater Cities and Regional Sport Facility Fund, the second and final round of the $100 million grant is available, with grants of up to $1 million offered to sport and recreation organisations and councils.

In Round 2, up to $46 million is available for projects that improve sports facilities and recreational spaces and enable more people to participate in sport and active recreation.

Grants from $100,000 up to $1 million are available for a range of projects including lighting, amenity buildings, clubrooms, change rooms and grandstands.

Round 1 resulted in $54 million awarded for 91 projects, with over $10 million awarded to football projects.

Round 2 is the final round of the program with applications closing at 12pm, on October 8, 2021.

Register for the webinar today by clicking here.

For any further questions please contact Football NSW’s Government Relation, Infrastructure and Funding Manager Daniel Ristic via email on danielr@footballfacilities.com.au.

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.

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