FFA awards licence extensions to Australian A-League clubs

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has awarded 15-year extensions to the licences of the nine Australian clubs that compete in the domestic A-League, with the future of New Zealand’s Wellington Phoenix still to be resolved.

The FFA had been engaged in consultations with A-League club owners for the past year with the current licences due to run until 2020. FFA chief executive David Gallop said the licence extension to 2034 would provide the clubs with long-term certainty for their planning and investment.

“FFA and the clubs have made the stability and sustainability of the A-League the top priority,” Gallop said. “Today’s (Monday’s) decision is consistent with our long-term strategy. The extension will give the clubs the certainty they need over a 20-year timeframe to invest, and will also underpin and enhance the value of the licence. The A-League is enjoying another great season with attendances, TV ratings, digital audiences and membership all increasing. The licence extension is a sign of confidence that the business model is on the right track for long-term success.”

Today’s decision is not applicable to Wellington Phoenix, whose licence term runs until 2016. The club’s participation in the A-League beyond 2016 is subject to approval from world governing body Fifa, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FFA. The issue will be addressed in separate discussions with the club.

In other news, FFA said each A-League club will have a limit of five visa players for the 2014-15 season, reducing to four in 2015-16. A feasibility study will be conducted for possible future implementation of a ‘3 + 1’ model, under which one visa player is Asian.

“The foreign visa players bring so much to the A-League in terms of technical ability and marketing interest, but we must also nurture our young Australian players,” Gallop added. “We have taken a prudent step to reduce the visa limit over a number of years to create more opportunities for local, elite youth players, while acknowledging that the visa players have an important role as we continue to build the competition. The idea of a ‘3 + 1’ model being introduced at some stage is aimed at strengthening our links to Asia, where football is undergoing a boom on the technical, professional and business levels. This model would align our competition with the AFC Champions League and assist clubs in setting up their player rosters.”