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A-League and W-League agree separation from Australian FA

Clubs to take control of top-tier Australian soccer leagues before Christmas.

10 November 2020 Ed Dixon

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  • In-principle agreement had been reached between parties in July 2019
  • Clubs looking to source outside investment
  • FFA to become A-League and W-League regulator

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has reached an agreement to hand over control of the men’s A-League and women’s W-League to the two competitions’ clubs.

An in-principle agreement between the national governing body and Australia’s top-flight soccer leagues was struck in July 2019, but protracted negotiations meant an official deal has not been reached until now.

As a result, the clubs will take control of the A-League and W-League before Christmas. The newly formed independent organisations will oversee marketing and commercialisation, while efforts will also be made to source outside investment, in part to help secure the future of several clubs facing financial pressures brought on by Covid-19.

In addition, clubs will be responsible for drawing up the two leagues’ fixture lists in conjunction with FFA, which wants the competitions to move to the Australian winter to coincide with the lower-tier leagues in the country.

When the in-principle agreement was reached last year, the New Leagues Working Group (NLWG), which was formed by FFA in October 2018, said the changes would usher in a ‘new era’ of Australian soccer and ‘bring about the evolution and reinvigoration of Australia’s professional domestic competitions’.

Though FFA is relinquishing control, the organisation will become the leagues’ regulator, giving it final say over issues such as the introduction of promotion and relegation, as well as team expansion. The former has been pushed for in the men’s game by many within Australian domestic soccer since the second-tier National Premier Leagues (NPL) was established in 2013. That said, there are concerns over how relegation and promotion could affect the viability of some A-League clubs.

“We are in the final stage of the unbundling process and have reached an agreement with the clubs and member federations,” said FFA chief executive James Johnson. “The unbundling is now being operationalised and will come into full effect for the start of this coming A-League and W-League season.

“The clubs will become the league's owner and operator and the FFA will become the regulator of the Australian professional game.”

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