May 28 – Football Federation Australia (FFA), A-League clubs and the players’ union have unveiled plans to resume the country’s premier league from mid-July, but proposals could be derailed depending on domestic broadcaster Fox Sports’ position on TV rights.
The force majeure provision in the broadcast agreement allows Fox Sports to terminate the contract, which still runs for another three years, without any penalty. The likelihood is that Fox, whose broadcast rights fees give it a stranglehold over the Australian professional league, will seek a re-negotiation having just agreed a rebate with Australia’s premium sports league, the NRL (Rugby League).
SBS reported that Fox Sports wants to halve the value of the existing deal, which is worth $57 million per year. Other Australian media reported that the broadcaster might even want a reduction as drastic as 70%.
In the past Fox Sports had expressed dis-satisfaction with the direction of Australian football as both attendances and viewing figures plummeted.
In a rare show of unity, Australian football has come together under the umbrella of the FFA and players have returned to training, but the coalition might not be enough to stave off what some are predicting could be a dramatic downsizing of the domestic game.
“We are committed to delivering the completion of the Hyundai A-League 2019-20 season,” said FFA CEO James Johnson.
For its part the A-League has taken steps to reinvirgorate its broadcast product. A-League chief Greg O-Rourke pointed at plans to enhance the match-day experience for armchair fans.
“We will be including new and innovative elements to the matchday broadcast experience,” said O’Rourke. “Our focus is also on optimising the broadcast flow and therefore providing football content seven days a week. We believe that there are great opportunities for our broadcast partner and therefore the fans.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1593920787labto1593920787ofdlr1593920787owedi1593920787sni@o1593920787fni1593920787