Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Chief Executive Adam Vivian has today stated that the success of Australian football and player wellbeing is being placed in jeopardy by scheduling and called on the concerns of the players to be finally heeded.

Vivian’s statement follows the Central Coast Mariners having to endure three matches and over 40 hours of travel in the space of eight days as they compete in both the Asian Champions League (ACL) and the A-League Finals Series. Three of the remaining four A-League finalists are also competing in the ACL, with Melbourne Victory required to play mid-week in South Korea, before facing Brisbane Roar on Sunday in Brisbane.

“Current scheduling not only raises doubts regarding player wellbeing but also disadvantages clubs for being successful. Clubs should not be forced to choose between the welfare of their players and on field success,” said Vivian.

“Due to the financial position of the clubs, A-League players do not receive additional salary or match payments for participating in the A-League Finals Series or ACL matches. Further all travel in the ACL is economy class, although clubs may, if they choose, provide business class amenity.

“The players have been willing to compromise economically to support the A-league Finals Series and the ACL, but they can not be expected to continue to compromise on their own health and safety.

“The current situation sees players undertaking exhaustive travel schedules with inadequate time for recovery at the most important time of the season.

“As shown by research undertaken by Raymond Verheijen, and endorsed by FIFPro, the world players’ association, players should have a minimum of three days recovery following matches. Not only is this not the case on many occasions but extensive travel is also being added to the mix, placing players at a much higher risk of injury and making it much more difficult for them to perform at their best.”

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

  • negotiations to begin with the Asian Football Confederation to see if Australian teams can be drawn at home for Asian Champions League 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
  • for players to have not less than 3 days break between ACL and Finals Series matches (exclusive of long haul travel time)

Vivian confirmed that to date none of these have been implemented and said the PFA would continue to actively pursue these solutions in negotiations with FFA.

“During the 2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations the PFA will look to ensure the establishment of a ‘world class’ sporting workplace in the A-League with travel and recovery key elements of this,” Vivian added.