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Clubs warn A-League needs A$120m in further funding as FFA unveils breakaway blueprint

Owners of clubs in Australia’s A-League have warned the league faces a A$120m (€76m/$85m) shortfall in funding as it prepares to break away from Football Federation Australia and establish its own autonomous ruling body.

The Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, which represents the A-League owners, was responding to the release of the blueprint for ‘A-League 2.0’. The report, focused on what the league’s structure will look like after it gains independence from the federation with the start of next season, was unveiled by FFA and the New Leagues Working Group earlier this week, but was scant on detail.

Though the planned split has so far been amicable, with both parties acknowledging its commercial benefits, there are still several major points of contention. The 70-page report left significant scope for negotiations over issues of finance and governance, with FFA particularly keen to hang on to a larger share of the broadcast rights than the clubs are currently accepting, and to protect the funding of the men’s and women’s national sides.

Further findings from the report are now due to be announced in July, a matter of months before the first independent A-League season is due to kick off.

The APFCA has criticised FFA for compiling the report in just six weeks – arguing it should have been a six-month process – and has called on the governing body to take greater action in granting autonomy to the A-League, along with the women’s W-League and the youth Y-League. The owners have stressed that in order to make up the A$120m in extra funding, they require guarantees that the clubs will own and operate the league fully, without FFA interference.

APFCA chairman Paul Lederer claimed that “we and the game will have little to show” for collective losses of A$25m they are facing for the 2018-19 season.

He added: “If we are to turn the professional game around and fulfil its potential, the clubs will need to invest more than $120m over the next four years. We cannot be expected to continue to financially prop up something that we do not own and that is managed by a third party that is failing to perform.”