The FFA are trumpeting a major victory over their new deal with Foxtel.
$346 million over six years is a substantial increase on the old deal. It means approx. $58 million per year, which is a lot more than the last deal ($33 million plus another $7 million from FTA). With up to $15 million per year still to come from residual rights plus the FTA deal for Saturday nights, the FFA is looking at anywhere between $60 million and $73 million, per year, for the next six years.
For the sake of speculation, like any purchaser of a lotto ticket when the jackpot’s over $20 million, let’s just imagine what we might do with (say) $70 million per year ($67 million after the marquee fund).
First off, the clubs need to be properly compensated and incentivised. I would raise the salary cap to $3.7 million but give the clubs an annual $5 million. They would therefore (all of them) have some extra money for marquees before needing to access the FFA’s marquee fund. Or pay transfer fees for NPL developed players (but I’ll get to that). Alternatively, they could apply the extra money to general revenue, but for the future of the game, we need to make ownership of a franchise attractive. (They do generate their own income, by the way.)
That means $50 million spent, with $17 million left to spend. This is where it gets interesting. The FFA needs to pay for:
The Young Socceroos
The Young Matildas
The FFA Cup (partly sponsored by Westfield)
I have no idea how much it costs to run these programs, but I will assume that the Socceroos and Matildas operations (including flights, coaches’ and players’ wages) are entirely paid for by sponsorship and gate takings. That means the FFA just needs to pay for the younger teams. Surely $5 million per year is enough for that (including coaching salaries).
That leaves $12 million for the FFA’s own internal operations plus incentives to the grassroots, other investments and contribution to savings.
Again, I have no idea how much it costs to run the FFA. No doubt the answers are a matter of public record but, despite being a lawyer, I hate looking shit up, so I’d rather just guess.
Let’s say $5 million for FFA expenditure (and I’m sure they have other revenue not mentioned here – like a cut from amateur fees for example). That leaves $7 million dollars a year for good works.
And this is what the article is really about. How should the FFA plough $7 million per year back into grassroots?
For a start, fees for young players are waaaay over the top. I’d love the FFA to do something about player fees – they’re bloody ridiculous. How on earth can AFL and other codes have fees so much lower than football? They’re supposed to be the heavier contact codes so why aren’t their insurance fees higher than football? And if football has (by far) the biggest participation rate, why aren’t there economies of scale that bring the insurance premiums down?
And how many people do you know have actually made a claim on football insurance? Premiums are supposed to be set by actuaries analysing risk. The risk is all but non-existent from what I’ve seen, which means plenty could be knocked off the top. Either that or there should be an opt out clause to allow players to carry their own risk (and pay no insurance).
The other ridiculous cost is the amount parents of talented kids pay to be picked in academy teams. In my day, if you were good enough for a rep team it was free. These days, parents are all but scammed paying up to $2,500 per year for their kids to play in teams that can’t truly be said to picked on merit, because the fees are so high. Australia’s next Viduka, Kewell or Messi might be shunted off to AFL because his (or her) parents couldn’t afford the fees. This is a national disgrace.
If I were king of the FFA, I’d be going out of my way to achieve the following:
expansion of the league – at least four new teams by the end of the new deal, preferably six (the rumour is that fox would help subsidise new teams - hopefully true);
salary cap allowances for long term and academy developed players;
encouragement of the NPL by allowing decent transfer fees into the A-League;
paying incentives to NPL teams on condition they charge no more than insurance premiums for their rep teams;
using my influence and contacts to reduce insurance premiums for amateur players;
setting up a trust fund to which all associations and all clubs could apply for grants to support all manner of worthy causes and good ideas.
All of this would help grow the game.
Grow the game and you grow the pie.
Grow the pie and by the end of the six year deal we might have seen an entire revolution in the sporting landscape.
Football will be the biggest sport in Australia. It’s just a matter of when (and how the journey is managed)...
Adrian’s latest book Political Football: Lawrie McKinna’s Dangerous Truth is in the shops right now