The recent announcement on Thursday by FFA that it has approved the acquisition of the Melbourne Heart’s A-League license by Manchester City in my opinion is a fantastic event for Australian football.
As a life long player of the game to see a team that is part of the most exclusive domestic competition in the world buy a team from our domestic competition is proof that the world is watching what is happening with football down under.
We need investment like this to help drive our game. At the moment it is unfortunate that it is a bottom – up system in terms of fees structures unlike the other major codes where it is top – down. Not sure what I mean ? In NRL and AFL there is a large amount of investment in the junior and amateur competitions because they quite simply have more money than the FFA. In football in Australia a fair proportion of players fees go to State Associations and the FFA to fund the “development” of the game across the nation.
I remember when my brothers starting playing rugby league for the North Ryde Hawks in the late nineties that their fees were $50 and each year they got a new jersey, shirts and socks (and sometimes tracksuits) supplied by the Balmain JRL, but conversely I was paying $150 to play for the mighty Redbacks in the U21s, plus shorts, socks and we got a loan shirt. !
That is ok though. The current domestic competition has only been around for 10 years following the old NSL as opposed to the VFL/AFL and NSWRL/ARL/NRL which have been around for much longer. So it will take longer to build the coffers 🙂
Whilst the foxtel deal is great for the FFA, the lack of free to air TV games does make it hard for the public to get behind it, even though there are good supporter basis. I don’t have foxtel so crave the current friday night game but wish there was more. To get greater general public awareness of the game there has to be at least 2-3 free to air games a week plus all the finals.
And so it is things like the purchase of Melbourne Heart by Manchester City that will drive funding into the game generally, into the A-League, into youth development and into grassroots football. All of this helps to build the supporter base and player base and hopefully allows the FFA to reduce its need for the exclusive deals to operate.
In reading the comments of the Manchester City executive they are not here to muck around…
Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to make Melbourne Heart one of the most successful football clubs in Australia and throughout the region. We believe the strong sports culture of Melbourne combined with the football and commercial expertise within our consortium will make for a powerful combination both on and off the pitch”.
It is great to read that and I hope that what they are promising comes to fruition. Well done FFA.