Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop has expressed frustration that the upcoming A-League season could kick off without a new Collective Bargaining Agreement being ratified by the players’ union.
Two days before the competition’s 11th season is due to start with Western Sydney against Brisbane, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) are still to sign off on a new CBA.
After stormy off-season negotiations, the two parties have agreed to terms for a four-year whole-of-game deal that would take in the Socceroos, Matildas and A-League.
But Gallop said he is disappointed the protracted discussions are still going on and called for the PFA to accept the deal on the table.
“I am frustrated at the time that it’s taken,” Gallop said at the season launch in Sydney on Tuesday.
“Indications from the PFA leadership are that the deal is agreed but needs to be ratified. We wanted that to happen last week.
“I certainly call on it to happen this week, so that we can settle in for the season.”
The PFA released a statement on Tuesday with chief executive Adam Vivian urging for more to be done to improve football in Australia.
“I don’t think they were useful comments today,” Gallop retorted.
“We’re perfectly aware of what needs to happen to develop the sport.
“The PFA have got a role. Right now their role is to get the deal done. It’s a deal that’s affordable for the game, it’s responsible for the game.
“It’s dragged on for too long … it really is time for them to focus on their job and let us focus on ours.”
Gallop denied he ever held fears the lengthy CBA negotiations could cause a delay to the beginning of the season.
“The fans would expect that the games would go ahead in any circumstances and the PFA recognise that as well,” he said.
The former NRL boss also rejected the suggestion off-field issues have made for a low-key A-League build-up lacking excitement and momentum, saying he was confident this season would provide SBS and Fox Sports with the encouragement they needed to sign another broadcast agreement at the end of the 2016/17 season.
But he stressed the importance of a successful season in an Australian sporting market that is more competitive than ever, and acknowledged that means ensuring all clubs are financially viable.
While reigning champions Melbourne Victory, cashed-up Melbourne City and Sydney FC are in great shape, instability still threatens lower-end teams.
“The financial potholes continue to be a challenge for this competition in its 11th season,” Gallop said, citing Brisbane Roar and the FFA-owned Newcastle Jets’ recent troubles.
“It’s a start-up competition, it’s achieved an enormous amount.
“But there’s a great debt owed to the club owners who continue in most circumstances to put their hand in their pocket at the end of every season to meet the hole, and we’re indebted to them for that.”
Gallop’s comments came as the A-League launched with a virtual spin, including holograms of players and a live-streamed video chat with all 10 captains from around Australia and New Zealand.
A new-look Wanderers will kick off the competition on Thursday night when they host the Roar at Parramatta Stadium, in what will be a big test for new Brisbane coach John Aloisi.
Adelaide United will host the first blockbuster at Adelaide Oval when they attempt to see off Victory, while Sydney FC will take on Melbourne City at home at Allianz Stadium.
“Come this time next week you’ll be saying `wow, the A-League season 11 started with a bang’,” Gallop said.