The membership of the PFA has overwhelmingly united behind the PFA’s comprehensive strategy to secure collective bargaining agreements for the Socceroos and the A-League in the first part of 2007, with March looming as the key month for the negotiations.

The PFA, through the PFA Socceroos Players’ Committee, has identified 30 items for negotiation for a new 4 year deal that will take in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and, ultimately, the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.  The PFA is determined that negotiations for a CBA for the A-League do not break down for a 3rd time in 2007, and is also seeking an agreement for A-League players until 2009/2010.
The PFA and the players maintain their commitment to being responsible at this stage of the game’s commercial growth, and see a genuine partnership between the game and the players as critical to sustaining the game’s viability and the international competitiveness of Australian football.

There are at least 4 key elements to developing an effective collective bargaining partnership for Australian football:

  1. the building of trust, which involves the mutual recognition by FFA, the A-League Clubs and the PFA of the vital roles each has to play in the growth and development of Australian football.  The most successful Australian sports are built on a strong governance model (which we are now, post Crawford, beginning to enjoy) as well as a partnership between the game and the players which sees the players’ association as a key stakeholder that contributes to all aspects of the game, and not a narrowly focused interest group;
    2.    the players understanding the business of football– the PFA and the players have for many years played a leading role in the positive reform of Australian football, including advocating for the creation of the A-League in the first place on conditions that included a properly determined salary cap and floor, full-time professionalism and players undertaking significant community and promotional work.  The PFA continues to embrace a philosophy that the well being of the game is a precondition to the well being of the players;
    3.    FFA and A-League Clubs understanding the demands of the playing career path, including security of employment, career education, protection from injury and freedom of movement.  The PFA feels further work is required here as FFA continues to resist the PFA’s claims for basic protections such as injury payments, a structured working week and resourcing PFA player education, development and retirement programs; and
    4.    dealing with the constant challenge of change.  “New football” is still a developing business.  Together, the game and the players must develop the vision and strategies required to coherently deal with change intelligently, remembering that football is the world’s most competitive sport and Australia is arguably the world’s most competitive sports market.

The PFA, of course, secured a CBA for the Socceroos for the 2006 FIFA World Cup campaign.  However, the PFA rejected CBA offers with FFA before both the first and second A-League seasons, due to inadequacies with the terms of employment on offer, including injury payments, the minimum wage, disciplinary procedures, work/life balance, hours of work, insurance cover (including for players coming off contract) and lack of funding to the PFA to run and fund career education, hardship and development programs for players.  Other vital issues for negotiation include the operation of the salary cap, additional services agreements, FFA’s application of the international transfer system to Australians, aspects of the A-League player contract regulations such as the use of short-term contracts, the Asian Champions League and, given the recent experience of the New Zealand Knights players, guarantees to protect the employment and entitlements of players where an A-League club loses its licence or changes ownership.
The players’ support for the PFA’s CBA strategy was demonstrated at the 2006 PFA Annual General Meeting in November.  In addition to the strategy being unanimously adopted by the 30 delegates present, representing all A-League clubs, changes to the PFA’s Rules were approved to enhance the representative capacity of the PFA under Australia’s new industrial relations laws.  On top of this, 169 A-League players (almost 100% of permanently listed players) have appointed the PFA as their exclusive collective bargaining agent in writing.  The PFA has served copies of the appointments on FFA and all A-League clubs in accordance with the new laws, confirming the PFA’s mandate to represent the players and legally requiring all dealings in relation to the collective employment of players to be conducted through the PFA.