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FFA discussion paper looks to start the transformation of football in Australia

FFA discussion paper looks to start the transformation of football in Australia
July 2, 2020

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has released a discussion paper setting out 11 principles that aim to assist the "transformation of Australian football", delivering a sweeping vision that addresses all aspects of the game, even covering how it is played.

The discussion paper, which takes a critical root-and-branch look at all aspects of the ‘world game’ in Australia, has been released, according to FFA Chief Executive James Johnson “to address some of the major challenges (we) face today".

While the document highlights the strengths of Australian football, Johnson admits “we have to change.

"Australian football has taken a massive hit because of COVID-19 and there is no doubt the game will feel the effects for years to come.

"So, anyone that's not talking about change in the sport industry, (or) in the football industry, I think is just going to be left behind."

Buoyed by the recent decision to award Australia and New Zealand the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, as well as FFA's new TV deal with Foxtel, albeit one that includes drastically reduced terms, the discussion paper is built around 11 principles, which Johnson said were "the next step in not just the rebuild, but the transformation of Australian football".

The principles include:

• Building a strong and consistent identity for Australian football
• Developing a narrative for football, which distinguishes it from the other football codes
• Establishing a domestic transfer system
• Increasing opportunities for young players in terms of development and minutes on the field
• Improving coaching
• Improving governance
• Reducing costs for players
• Continuing the growth of the game for women and girls
• Creating a better operating model for the professional leagues
• Positioning the national teams, the Matildas and Socceroos as unifying symbols of the game

In addition, the discussion paper calls for the identification of "characteristics of a style of play, which are authentic and resonate with Australian society".

The move to establishing a domestic transfer system suggests a more aggressive financial position while Johnson acknowledges this, and other proposals, will be met with opposition by state federations eager to maintain their power bases.

However, he calls on all stakeholders to “consider what the purpose of the various administrative bodies in Australian football are".


The paper notes "COVID-19 has exposed the underlying fragilities of the current governance framework of football in Australia".

It points out the duplication and confusion of many layers of management across the FFA's and states' 10 different legal entities, 10 chairpersons, 10 chief executives and around 70 directors.

This has led to football’s ‘bottom-up funding model’, in contrast to Australia’s other football codes, which means players end up paying $164 million in registration fees to keep the game afloat.

Johnson added “we've just got to recognise what's great about the sport and what's great about the Australian game.

"Sure, if we benchmark our professional league versus the AFL, the AFL on all the metrics is a bigger sport sure, but I think we're bigger than a league.

"I think our big opportunity is our grassroots. Not only do we have high numbers, but we just have such a diverse group of people that play football - men, women, people of different colour, people of different ethnicity.

"I think we need to recognise what our strengths are, not worry so much about what other leagues in Australia are doing."

Images: Action from an NPL NSW Men's fixture (top) and FFA Chief Executive James Johnson (below).

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29th May 2020 -  FFA looks for A-League season restart in July

13th May 2020 - FFA set lose $6 million sponsorship with major A-League sponsor Hyundai

2nd May 2020 - FFA supports measures released for resumption of grassroots and elite sport

29th April 2020 - FFA prepares guidelines for the resumption of football

27th April 2020 - FFA appoint former stars to game development panel

23rd April 2020 - FFA extends postponement of the Hyundai A-League

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24th March 2020 - FFA announces suspension of A-League season

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15th January 2020 - New FFA Chief Executive sets out priorities at first press conference

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