FFA in the Black
10:30 PM Sun 20th Apr, 2014 - Admin
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said the organisation will make a profit from the upcoming World Cup, but admitted a difficult market is making the search for a new sponsor for the Socceroos problematic.

Gallop told Financial Review Sunday on the Nine Network that the FFA would also enter into discussions with SBS regarding a possible move of its A-League coverage to the network’s primary channel after low ratings on SBS2 this season.

“That is certainly something we are talking to SBS about, making sure we are accessible to people and that they know where to go to get their A-League on a Friday night,” he said.

The A-League, which begun its final series on Friday night, is in the first season of a four-year $160 million broadcast deal with Fox Sports Australia and SBS. Fox show all five weekly matches live, while SBS simulcasts the Friday night match on SBS2.

Gallop said the combined audience for Friday matches was averaging at least 100,000 but it is understood close to half of that is from Fox Sports viewers on pay-television.
Socceroos still searching for major sponsor

Fox Sports has live rights for all finals matches, which SBS will show on a one-hour delay.

SBS has the exclusive rights for the World Cup that begins in Brazil in mid-June, at which the Socceroos will play in a tough group featuring defending champions Spain, Holland and Chile.

The Socceroos are still searching for a major sponsor almost 12 months after Qantas elected not to extend its deal, worth an estimated $4 million annually.

Gallop said he was hopeful of having a sponsor in place by the time the squad leaves for Brazil. “The sponsorship market is tough but once we get some certainly around the playing squad, particularly that period when they will be training and then playing the farewell game on May 26 [against South Africa in Sydney], once those things become more imminent then we are hopeful we will score a sponsor for the Socceroos.”

He said FFA would make a profit in the 2014 financial year after a small surplus of $785,000 in the previous 12 months from $96.7 million revenue. World Cup participation is worth up to $25 million for the 32 countries taking part, though Gallop warned that participating is also a costly venture.

“Obviously the Socceroos are important and we will make a surplus from being at the World Cup no matter what stage we get to, but it’s not a huge amount of money. We will invest that wisely with the next four-year [World Cup] cycle in mind.”

He also said the FFA were watching discussions about the controversy surrounding Qatar being awarded the 2022 World Cup, which Australia had unsuccessfully bid for, including allegations of bribery by the winning bidders.

“There’s a still a bit of water to bridge to play out around the process…and our chairman Frank Lowy has made it very clear that we have some grievances around that process. [World governing body] FIFA have indicated that they will listen to those.”

Gallop said he was bullish about the A-League’s increasing popularity, revealing that crowds have risen by 54 per cent over the past three years to an average of slightly more than 13,000 per match and that membership number are up 33 per cent since the 2012-13 season.

He said club finances are improving, thought it is understood the 10 A-League sides could lose $10-15 million combined in 2013-14.

“We have more clubs than ever before at closer to break even and that’s a big jump from the history of the competition that big investments have been made by [the owners].”

“When you look back at the value of A-League franchises…in 2005 people said they were worth about $1 million and now we are seeing ten-fold increases in that, not only at the [Western Sydney] Wanderers but also the Manchester City purchase of the Melbourne Heart.”

The Wanderers are set to be bought by a consortium led by Primo Smallgoods CEO Paul Lederer in a deal worth about $11 million, with Gallop saying the transaction should be finalised by the end of June. Manchester City’s purchase of the Heart for $12 million was finalised earlier this year.

Gallop said there are also plans in place to help Australian business capitalise on next January’s Asia Cup tournament, which Australia will host for the first time.

“It’s an opportunity for the nation to use football as a bridge to Asia politically, socially and economically. There are extensive plans in place to provide networking opportunities…to build closer business links with Asian companies. I think that will be an eye-opener for Australians.”

“It’s a massive opportunity for the sport. I don’t think we quite realise how big football is in Asia. You hear some of the numbers, like a billion people watching the tournament and they say in the next 10 years there will be 400 million people playing in Asia from Lebanon to Japan.”

Article from the Australian Financial Review.
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