Nearly half of Australia’s professional soccer players’ employment contracts are set to expire at the end of May 2020, but there’s been no agreement reached between the clubs, players, and the sport’s governing body the Football Federation of Australia.
The FFA is yet to confirm what will happen to the A-League’s 2019-2020 season, which has been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic like other sporting competitions around the world.
Earlier, clubs like Perth Glory, Adelaide United and Central Coast Mariners stood down staff and players, as Brodie Storey reports.
BRODIE STOREY: Due to the growing concerns of the Coronavirus pandemic and the prolonged postponement of the A-League, a few clubs in the league have decided to cut staff and a few players. Players and staff from the clubs are eligible for the new “jobkeeper” payments the federal government has put in place, but there is outrage from the Professional Footballers Australia or PFA that players and staff aren’t being treated with the same respect or certainty that other major Aussie sports – like the AFL or NRL – have treated their players. Chief Executive of the PFA John Didulica has spoken in an interview at length with The World Game on the issue.
JOHN DIDULICA: In our view the steps taken by Perth Glory are unique across the world, show a reckless disregard for even directives from FIFA which are really focusing on collectives solutions to this significant problem. I think it demonstrates that the clubs aren’t ready to manage this competition with the leadership that it warrants, because no other mature competitions around the world are taking these steps. The reality is if a club can’t cash flow one month’s salary regardless of what financial barrier they may be coming up against, then they’re potentially not fit to hold a license in that competition.
BRODIE STOREY: The PFA has made strides in trying to work closely with the clubs and the players to try and make this stressful time as easy as possible. Mr Didulica has spoken on the challenges ahead because of the virus and his disgust at the lack of urgency the clubs and the federation have shown in helping their most important assets.
JOHN DIDULICA: There will be a big hit as a consequence of COVID, not only in the short term but into seasons ahead and we need to brace for those. And our response to that was to sit down and work through how we can smooth and share the burden over months and years to come. The clubs have shown no inclination to do that whatsoever and they aren’t being coerced in to doing that by the federation. Not good enough.
BRODIE STOREY: No one knows how the situation will be resolved but it’s obvious that there is hard work on either end to see what benefits players and staff most. We can only hope it gets resolved because it doesn’t benefit the game at in all in the long term, especially now, in this difficult time for all Australians.