PFA Executive Chairman Brendan Schwab today reiterated the PFA’s position on A-League expansion, as the Board of Football Federation Australia meets in Sydney to consider applications to extend the competition from 8 to 10 teams.

“The PFA is a long time supporter of an expanded A-League competition, and there is “no magic number” as far as league size is concerned.  However, as with all major decisions involving Australian football at this important time, we need to ensure expansion is handled in a manner that will be commercially sustainable, build the fan base for the game and, equally, enhance the quality and international competitiveness of Australian football.  The latter requires Australia to substantially build its talent pool.

“The key commercial opportunity for the A-League lies in its ability to attract a regular national television audience of 1.0 to 1.5 million viewers, and 3.0 to 3.5 million for our premier content, such as important Socceroos matches.  Packaged together, these media rights can provide a commercial platform for the game that will sit only behind the AFL in the medium to long term.

“Providing more matches and media content in more markets is critical if this opportunity is to be realised.  More matches also have a major sporting benefit in that they will provide greater numbers of A-League players with a longer season which is crucial to maximising their development and potential as elite professionals.

“The PFA’s policy on expansion identifies 5 key principles to guide FFA in the decision to admit a new franchise:

  1. Quality:  arrangements must be in place to ensure the team is able to recruit and develop a quality playing squad that will be immediately competitive, extremely well coached and professionally supported, on and off the field.  The PFA is regularly contacted by players of both Australian and other nationalities based in Europe about the possibility of playing in the A-League.  Potential A-League players will be further developed through the new national youth league;
  1. Atmosphere:  the team must be able to play in a stadium that provides great amenity, atmosphere and financial returns for average crowds of at least 10,000 to 15,000;
  1. Community:  the franchise must be committed to building strong relations with the grass roots football and social communities in their local area;
  1. Powerful Brand Position:  the franchise must demonstrate an outstanding capacity to develop a powerful brand position by building a deep emotional and rational relationship with the potential fan base; and
  1. Visibility: will follow the successful implementation of these principles, requiring the franchise to be able to attract sports administrators of the highest caliber.

“In addition, a long term approach is required.  Teams admitted to the competition must not only show they are located in markets capable of supporting an A-League team in the existing commercial framework, but also in the dramatically transformed framework that will follow the sport’s next media rights deal.  This will see a substantially higher salary cap and an even greater quality of play that will enable Australian clubs to compete regularly with Asia’s best in continental and world competitions.”