A-League clubs frustrated over opposition to league independence plans


”There is the timeframe of the creation of a national second division, the fact that the state federations see promotion and relegation as part of that discussion, and the whole issue of expansion itself and who decides who gets into the league,” the source said.

”Who is to say that the clubs, acting independently, will run the game any better than the FFA? There are a lot of issues to be resolved. We should also be asking if there are any other models for running the league that could be examined before we go down this direction.”

Questions have been raised over the terms of Wellington’s inclusion. Credit:AAP

It is also understood that the state federations have reservations about Wellington Phoenix’s continued presence in the league: the New Zealanders have the right to be in the A-League until the end of next season, but no longer.

The A-League clubs have responded positively to the Kiwis’ interest in remaining as part of the top-tier Australian competition in the future.

But the state federations have asked why a New Zealand club, and the NZ game, is benefiting to the tune of several million dollars a year in dividends from the TV broadcast revenue when that money might be better spent underwriting another Australian franchise or underpinning further investment in the broader Australian game.

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The issue of payment for the intellectual property of the club’s brand names and logos is also a major sticking point. The clubs are reluctant to put a high value on the properties (now owned by the FFA) arguing that they are essentially already own them and that the hundreds of millions of dollars they have collectively spent on establishing their businesses is recompense enough.

There is broad agreement that the A-League would be better off moving away from the overall control of the FFA, but the arguments over how that might best be managed again illustrate the divides between the sectoral interests within the game.

All parties were able to unite behind the idea of an independent A-League over the past couple of years as the major battering ram they used to oust Steven Lowy, who opposed the idea, from the chairmanship of the FFA.

Having wiped away the old leadership, the groups are finding that the old arguments over how best to run the game remain.

Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing

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