Australia's A-League close to return after pay deal agreement

Australia football season is close to a return after agreement was signed on Monday between FFA, A-League clubs and the players’ union.

FFA remains in negotiation with broadcaster Fox Sports, which has sought a reduction in its annual rights payment. (Representative Image)   -  GETTY IMAGES

Australian football’s A-League, which suspended play in late March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is closer to resuming after organizers and players agreed a pay deal and to extend the league to August 31.

The agreement was signed on Monday between Football Federation Australia, A-League clubs and the players’ union Professional Footballers Australia. Full details have not been released but FFA chief executive James Johnson confirmed players have agreed to a reduction in pay for the last three months of the competition.

"We have all had to readjust to this new landscape and this has meant coming together to make sacrifices for the greater good of the game,” Johnson said.

"When the A-League was suspended on 24 March our players had been paid for the full 10 months of the season, equating to 83 percent of their contracted salaries. Our players have shown great solidarity and have agreed to take a reduction in pay for the additional three months of the season to ensure that it can be completed.”

No date has been set for the league to re-start but clubs have begun medical testing of players and staff to permit a return to training later this week. A tentative start date of July 16 has been suggested, pending agreement with broadcasters.

READ: Italian government agrees to loosen football quarantine rule - reports

Clubs representative Paul Lederer said Monday’s agreement opened the way for professional football to resume in Australia.

"This is really great news for football fans across Australia and I am so pleased that their patience has been rewarded,” Lederer said.

FFA remains in negotiation with broadcaster Fox Sports, which has sought a reduction in its annual rights payment because of the disruption to the league.

Two possible schedules have been drawn up for remaining matches. Under one, all 11 clubs will be based at a hub in New South Wales and will play matches in Sydney and Newcastle. Under the second, clubs in Brisbane, Adelaide and Victoria will be able to play matches at home if border restrictions are eased.

The New Zealand-based Wellington Phoenix will be based near Sydney after undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

O’Rourke confirmed the possibility of playing the final in New Zealand, where fans have already returned to professional rugby without limitation on crowd sizes.

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