Behind the façade of a good news story for fans, Thursday appears to have been yet another typically stalemated day at FFA HQ, with a familiar ‘two steps forward, one (and ½?) steps back’-feeling about yesterday’s announcement of the ‘reached agreement’ on the recommencement of the 2019/20 A-League season.
CEO James Johnson confirmed yesterday that the FFA, Hyundai A-League clubs and Professional Footballers Australia have come to amicable terms regarding the league’s resumption, but there’s a glaringly obvious key player missing from the parties named: Fox Sports.
Before delving into the bleaker details, the otherwise good news for City fans is that we have a proposed recommencement schedule, with mid-June seeing a return to training, with matches to start from mid-July.
In a hypothetical 35-day blitz which would span until mid-August, the FFA is hoping to see the clubs complete 32 matches, with Sydney reportedly set to serve as the central hub for A-League teams to be accommodated, with exception of fixtures played between the three Victorian teams.
City appears to be in a stronger position than most A-League teams, with just one VISA player (Adrián Luna) returning overseas during the break that staff will have to worry about getting back into the country.
Additionally, the club having continued to pay the full salaries of its contracted players, who have continued training primarily in isolation, with the club distributing gym equipment and GPS units to encourage communication of session results to coaching and fitness staff.
The aforementioned Fox-Sports-related ‘bad news’ is alluded to by Johnson in his statement, saying, “We are now looking forward to the agreement of our broadcast partner, Fox Sports, to our fixture proposal and timings.
"That’s the final piece of the jigsaw and once we have it in place we can move forward quickly.”
Various media outlets are reporting that Fox Sports is pushing for a 50-70% discount on their current broadcast deal with the FFA given the current economic climate, in addition to the A-League’s poor recent commercial performance, with some reports citing a reduced price tag as little as $10m per year for the Murdoch-owned broadcasting giant to shell out.
If you're after a plain-English players' perspective on the whole saga, Andrew Durante of Western United does a pretty good job: