Australian football’s stakeholders have come to an agreement that will allow the A-League season to restart in July, pending the approval of its major broadcaster.
- The FFA is hopeful players will return to training by mid-June, with the season wrapping up in August
- Fox Sports is yet to sign off on plans to complete the season
- A number of safety and testing protocols will be enforced to ensure the season is able to be completed
Football Federation Australia (FFA), the A-League clubs and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have confirmed they had ticked off plans to resume training in mid-June and matches in a hub by mid-July, with a view to finishing the season by mid-August.
It leaves broadcaster Fox Sports as the only major stakeholder yet to sign off on plans to complete the season.
“We are committed to delivering the completion of the A-League season and have agreed a comprehensive plan with the clubs and the PFA,” FFA chief executive James Johnson said in a statement.
“All parties have worked together extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure the professional game is ready to resume.
“We are now looking forward to the agreement of our broadcast partner, Fox Sports, to our fixture proposal and timings.
The FFA aims to complete the remainder of the A-League season in 35 days, with A-League head Greg O’Rourke flagging “football content seven days a week”.
The league was suspended in March by the coronavirus pandemic, with a handful of regular season rounds and the finals series remaining.
Securing a deal promptly was crucial as half the A-League players were due to come off contract after May 31, which would have left them as unemployed free agents.
“The organisation is incredibly proud of the players’ commitment, leadership and contribution to preserving the integrity of the A-League during this unprecedented challenge to Australian football,” PFA chief executive John Didulica said.
“In the absence of a vibrant professional competition there is a flow on effect for the whole game.
“Today we took an important step with the clubs and FFA toward ensuring the health of the game’s short and long-term future.”
The league will implement a number of safety and testing protocols to ensure the season is able to be completed.
Shortly after the season was suspended, a Newcastle Jets player and Wellington Phoenix staff member tested positive for coronavirus.
“The health and safety of our players, match officials, coaches, staff and other match day personnel remains our highest priority,” O’Rourke said.
“We have taken the necessary steps, with the support of government officials and medical experts, to agree and implement the appropriate protocols, which include rigorous screening and testing regimes.”