Has the FFA turned over a new leaf?
In this week's Three Sides to Every Story, J Spiropoulos looks at one of the biggest week's in A-League's history
Last week was one of the biggest in the history of the A-League.
A week ago the FFA were desperately chasing a tv deal which required a ten team league, but only had seven 'secure' teams; the Mariners were on life-support waiting for Russian investors, the Jets were a basket case without an owner, and the FFA themselves were running around Sydney's west drumming up support for their own start-up franchise. Things were grim.
Then, in short order we had an astounding turnaround from Nathan Tinkler to resume control of the Newcastle Jets, then it was confirmed that John Singleton would provide emergency funding to for the Central Coast Mariners and now news has leaked that the new A-League tv deal could be larger than anyone had previously expected. So, has the A-League finally turned the corner?
Word has it that Frank Lowy stepped in to sort out the mess with Nathan Tinkler after the staff at the FFA were unable to get beyond the trading of insults. Lowy flew to Brisbane for secret meetings with Tinkler and the two billionaires came to an agreement. After all the back and forth arguing it appears that Tinkler got what he wanted, namely the A-League license fee refund, an out of court settlement of the Jason Culina affair, and more managerial control of the A-League for the owners.
This set the scene for the week - with Mariners shareholder John Singleton confirming that he would provide additional emergency funding if required to get the club through the long off-season. Then things got even better as the A-League's new management committee met with reports from owners that positive agreements were made.
Finally it was revealed that the new A-League tv deal is likely to be worth around $2.7m to each franchise, more than enough to cover the whole salary cap and more importantly enough to placate owners of the franchises.
These huge moves provide enormous cause for optimism, if long term support for the Mariners can be confirmed, then we can move forward and start thinking seriously about how big the game can become, however it does raise serious concerns about the way the league has been run for the last five years...
We've been told repeatedly that A-League and Socceroos rights couldn't be separated because the national team was supporting the league - but the new tv deal suggests that the opposite is the truth. If that's the case then it's fair to say that the owners have been taken for a ride.
Nathan Tinkler being overcharged for his license had previously confirmed that the FFA was prepared to take advantage of its own investors, and the FFA's agreement to distribute more of their funds to the franchises now poses the question - if its the right thing to do, why wasn't it done before the recent chaos forced the FFA's hand?
Whether the game has really turned the corner or not will clearly depend on whether the FFA continue to treat investors with the respect they deserve. Let's hope they've really turned a new leaf.
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