A-League broadcast deal hangs in the balance as Fox Sports continues to hold out

The Football Federation Australia (FFA) has reached a decision on the return of the 2020 A-League, following its suspension in March, but broadcast partner Fox Sports hasn’t yet given the season the go-ahead.

FFA CEO James Johnson yesterday confirmed the season was ready to go with 32 matches to be played across 35 days from mid-July to mid-August, but said the body was still ‘looking forward’ to agreement from Fox Sports. Head of Hyundai A-League Greg O’Rourke went on to hint that the sport might be open to other agreements, saying there were ‘great opportunities’ on the horizon for a partner.

The plan for the season is based on a ‘hub’ approach which the FFA promises will allow for ‘innovative commercial and broadcast opportunities’ throughout the constant stream over 35 days.

“The hub strategy means that we have a unique opportunity to showcase the Hyundai A-League through a different lens and 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.”

Some A-League players would have seen their contracts expire on May 31, which is likely to have informed the rushed decision by the governing body. Johnson said Fox Sports was the ‘missing piece of the puzzle’.

“All parties have worked together extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure the professional game is ready to resume,” he said.

“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.”

SBS is reporting that Fox Sports is refusing to sign a deal until a 50% discount has been handed down. Other reports say that figure could be as much as 70% – or even more. The current deal is worth $57.6m per year and there are still three years left in the six-year agreement.

Players, officials, coaches, staff and other match day personnel will also be rigorously screened and tested before and during the season to ensure their health and safety is put first according to the FFA.

The A-League is set to return after the NRL, which kicked off its 2020 season last night, and the AFL. Other sporting events have been completely postponed until 2021, including the Tokyo Olympics.

The A-League airs on Fox Sports and ABC in Australia. Optus Sport has been snapping up other international soccer broadcast deals in recent months, but doesn’t currently have rights for the A-League.


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