What does this mean exactly? It means that neither top tier competition will be directly governed by the Football Federation Australia (FFA) and although the game’s governing body will still play a part in matters concerning fixture lists, their previous overall control has now been ceded.
In doing so, it means that both league competitions will have to fend for themselves in this big bad sporting world and at a time when revenue is not as free-flowing as it was once was, this may prove to be an almighty test.
However, COVID-19 or not, this is a plunge that both leagues have been wanting to take for several years and only after lengthy and protracted discussions with the FFA, has their wish been finally granted.
Some commentators have questioned whether now truly is the best time in which to take such a plunge, especially when broadcasting rights are being slashed across the board and when this is taken into account, there may be an element of truth.
Then again, those who have been clamouring for such a change, will point to the fact that freedom of this kind, allows them to go off and maximise both the A-League’s and W-League’s true potential in terms of marketing.
As now, they will be free to broker sponsorship deals on their own and they have long since felt, that by cutting out the middle man (the FFA), they can maximise the standing of the respective competitions and convert this into much needed Australian Dollars.
While this has been a deal that is almost 18 months in the making, as it was first agreed in principle back in July 2018 and although some kinks still need to be ironed out going forward, they are not enough to halt progress.
One of those kinks is where the FFA still garner an element of control and they still harbour a desire to switch the two leagues to a winter schedule and in doing so, it would bring them in line with the regional competitions that are still under their full jurisdiction.
In addition to that, there is still the topic of either promotion/relegation or expansion that is on the agenda for discussion and any matters regarding these two concepts, will be overseen by the previous status quo.
With the leagues acting as closed shops and nothing in the way of a trap door to the level below, there has been a constant push for this to change since the National Premier Leagues (NPL) were formed back in 2013.
The NPL’s serve as the second tier in the Australian league setup and although it has offered something of a pathway to ambitious clubs, their ambition can only go as far as a currently unbreakable glass ceiling.
However, the reason that the flow of promotion/relegation has not been previously introduced, is because of the FFA’s fears of financial viability for any outfit that finds itself operating at either a higher or lower level.
While it is those fears that the FFA will now have more time to dissuade, as their in-tray just become all the more empty and with both the A-League and W-League going it alone in terms of governance, they will both dream of reaching brand new financial frontiers.
Written by Dan Tracey