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New FFA Chief Executive sets out priorities at first press conference

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

Newly-appointed Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive, James Johnson has outlined his priorities in taking on the role including separating the A-league from the FFA, the joint Australia-New Zealand bid for the 2023 Womens World Cup, and reviewing domestic competitions.

Speaking at his first press conference today, Johnson spoke of the many challenges he faces, initially focusing on an A-League second division.

Here he advised “we don’t have a second-tier competition, but these discussions are happening and I don’t see any reason why we cannot have a second-tier competition.

“But what does a second-tier competition look like in a sporting framework like Australia? That’s a question that we’re going to have to answer.

“We have to have a discussion with our stakeholders, our state federations and the players with the PFA (and) … try and understand what type of league is ultimately not only going to provide opportunities for the players and the coaches and referees, but also what kind of league is going to be complementary to the NPL, the state federations to the A-League and the professional players themselves.

“I’d like to look at the FFA Cup, also the NPL, and how we grow these products.”

Johnson declined nominating an ideal number of clubs in the A-League and second-tier competition, saying it depended on competition format and available resources.

With football struggling to attract fans and sponsors, Johnson described the challenge of tackling several complex issues as “fun” and was upbeat about its future.

He commented “I think we’ve got a lot to be optimistic about with the participation numbers that we have and the opportunities that exist domestically and globally, with the potential to possibly host the Women’s World Cup.

“I’m going to get out to our commercial partners and listen to what their concerns are. I’ll also be communicating our vision as a sport as we develop it together with the board.

“’I certainly think investing in football is a great opportunity.”

Asked about his priorities, Johnson stated “we need to set the organisation (FFA) up internally for transformational change, from an organisation that is local to one that is able to act local but also think and act globally.

“The other two points are the unbundling of the A-League. The quicker we can get the governance model where it’s a win-win relationship, I think the better for us, for the whole football community and the A-League.

“I think the third priority is the Women’s World Cup because that decision is in June and time is working against us.”

The joint Australia-New Zealand bid is up against competition from Brazil, Colombia, Japan and a potential united Korean bid.

Describing taking on the job as a "privilege”, he added “I think having a football person at this particular time in Australian football is the right decision because the magnitude of football issues we need to tackle … there's a lot, there's a long, long list.

"With my background - a local product that's gone onto senior executive positions outside of Australia - I think the mixture of these two will be helpful and add value in tackling some of the issues we're confronted with."

With football in Australia traditionally having been beset by competing interests, Johnson wants to see FFA become a unifying force, bringing together different stakeholders.

He said other issues included looking at whether registration costs were too high and the possibility of incentivising clubs to develop players.

He also pledged that a grand "vision" for the game was coming but said it would only be formulated with stakeholder consultation.

Images: Newly-appointed Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive, James Johnson at today's press conference.

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13th December 2019 - FFA and NZF unite to submit joint bid for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023

6th December 2019 - FFA confirms appointment of new Chief Executive James Johnson

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20th August 2019 - Consumer Affairs Victoria issues advice on avoiding ticket scams

19th August 2019 - FFA announces independent review of national football teams

11th July 2019 - David Gallop to depart Football Federation Australia

5th July 2019 - FFA set to allow clubs to again use ethnic symbols and cultural names

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29th June 2019 - Football Victoria Chief Executive backs tough action on unruly clubs

26th June 2019 - Women in Football Association looks to eliminate the ‘grass ceiling’

21st June 2019 - FFA reveals framework for national second division with promotion and relegation

7th June 2019 - FFA and PFA announce move towards gender equity for W-League and A-League player payments

31st May 2019 - FFA Director Heather Reid apologises ‘unreservedly’ to sacked Matildas coach

24th May 2019 - FFA looks for significant Federal Government backing for 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup bid

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