Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has today called for every effort to be made to ensure that the fundamental principles of competitive fairness and player wellbeing are protected by the A-League Finals Series match schedule.


PFA Chairman Craig Foster says these would be breached with Melbourne Victory eyeing the prospect of three matches in eight days and in excess of 25 hours of travel if they are successful in their clash with Brisbane Roar on Friday night.

Foster said the scheduling of the Semi Final match versus Adelaide United on Friday, April 22, was of particular concern, with the Victory set to play in the Asian Champions League (ACL) just 70 hours earlier in China and likely to return into the country the day before the clash with the 2015/16 Premiers.

“The current scheduling raises doubts not only about player wellbeing but also penalises clubs for being successful,” said Foster. “It has the potential to impair three fundamental principles that should be non negotiable:

>> the competitive integrity of the A-League Finals Series;

>> the opportunity to enhance the international reputation of the A-League and Australian football; and

>> the health and safety of the Players.

“In the event that Melbourne Victory beat Brisbane Roar, fairness dictates that the Adelaide United Semi Final should be moved to Saturday,  April 23, to ensure that players are afforded a minimum 72 hours break between matches.

“Players deserve to be at their best and fans are entitled to demand their team is able to perform at their maximum in what will be a showpiece match of the A-League.

“I have spoken to our members in Adelaide who understand the importance of the principle and that the PFA would apply the same fundamental standard irrespective of the combatants. Indeed, it is our duty to do so for all players and the broader game. Furthermore, this would still ensure that Adelaide United have a full 24 hours more rest time than their opponent, should they make the Grand Final, so that every party can be satisfied that justice has been done.”

In June 2012, ahead of the 2012/2013 A-League season, the PFA tabled a report with Football Federation Australia (FFA) that detailed a number of solutions, including:

>> negotiations to begin with the Asian Football Confederation to assess the potential for Australian teams to be drawn at home for ACL  matches during the A-League Finals Series;

>> for “Socceroos” class amenities to be made available to A-League players having to travel internationally should overseas ACL matches clash with the A-League Finals Series; and

>> for players to have not less than 3 days break between ACL and Finals Series matches (exclusive of long haul travel time).

“A great deal of progress has been made in regard to scheduling in recent years and the balance between commercial, broadcasting and sporting interests are often very delicate however there is a vast difference between balance and impairment, where a minimum standard is breached. We have taken up the issue with FFA and see this is a great opportunity for everyone to work together to demonstrate that fundamental principles of the game are sacrosanct.”