Pay Dispute Resolution on the Horizon as FFA and PFA reach Agreement

The unpleasant and tension fueled pay war between Football Federation Australia and Professional Footballers Australia that has cast a dark cloud over the coming new season is winding to a close as a new collective bargaining agreement takes shape. This new agreement will replace the former collective bargaining agreement for the Socceroos, Matildas and A-League players which expired in July. The formal negotiation process between the two groups is finally over, although informal talks between the parties continues. The final obstacle is for the Socceroos, Matildas and A-League players to agree to the new deal. A spokesperson for Professional Footballers Australia stated that the agreement is “…for the players and the future of the game in Australia,” because of this, the players’ eventual agreement is deemed inevitable. Despite the delay in reaching an equitable agreement, there will be no disruption in the schedule for the start of the men’s and women’s A-League season, which will proceed as usual.

Professional Footballers Australia refuses to make any public announcements concerning any offers that are being made to members before those offers are presented to all of the players. Professional Footballers Australia has made it known that the public will be informed at the appropriate time once the offers and negotiations are finalized. The offers and negotiations will include a focus on contract security, as well as safety for players that are a part of financially unstable A-League clubs. David Gallop, the chief executive of Football Federation Australia, stated that he was frustrated by the length of time the player’s union was taking to approve the four-year, whole-of-game pay deal that is currently on the table. Despite Gallop’s frustration, Professional Footballers Australia stated that it would not be rushed into signing the new collective bargaining agreement by the chief executive.

Early pay talk breakdowns between players, Football Federation Australia and Professional Footballers Australia were stalled, causing players to act out and display their anger and frustration. The Socceroos turned down commercial events, while the Matildas pulled out of their Sydney training camp before their scheduled tour where the team was set to play the United States. The cause of these early breakdowns were what were seen as unreasonable demands by the A-League clubs. Some of these demands included requests by the Matildas for flight-class upgrades and accommodation for their US tour as well as an extra $3m in salary payments for A-League players. Gallop claimed that the Matildas’ requests were made at the last minute the day before they were set to leave for their US tour. A spokesperson for the Professional Footballers Association denied Gallop’s allegation, stating that the players’ requests were long-standing.

Gallop stated that Footballer Federation Australia does wish to see an improvement in pay for the clubs, but that they have a duty to keep those pay raises affordable. Gallop also mentioned that a great deal of money had already been invested in the program within the last year to prepare the Matildas for matches against Canada and in preparation for the World Cup. His statement goes hand in hand with the statement made by Scott Barlow, the Sydney FC chairman. Barlow stated that clubs cannot afford to go broke paying players, especially since the majority of A-League clubs are still losing money. The amount of money that the clubs are willing to accept and the amount that will be payed to players in the new collective bargaining agreement is an issue of great concern for Professional Footballers Australia. This is due to the recent financial chaos faced by Brisbane Roar and the breakdown of the Newcastle Jets under the leadership of former owner Nathan Tinkler.

At the beginning of these talks Gallop did express some fear that the unrest among the clubs and the lengthy negotiations concerning the collective bargaining agreement would effect the beginning of the A-League season and cause delays, but he later denied expressing any such concerns, going on to say “The fans would expect that the games would go ahead in any circumstances and the PFA recognize that as well.” He later amended his statement by saying that he had not been 100 percent confident that the impasse in the negotiations would not effect the start of the new season. The recent upheaval also found Gallop scolding the union for not knowing the “role” of the organization in the game.“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 really is time for them to focus on their job and let us focus on ours” he declared.

In the end, the Matildas stand to benefit the most from the new collective bargaining agreement. This new deal will make them full-time professional players for the first time in the league’s history. Reports state that the Matildas have been offered a two-tiered deal. In this proposed deal the players’ minimum wage that is currently set at $21,000 will increase to $34,000. This new progress can be attributed to 14 months of talks and compromise between Football Federation Australia and Professional Footballers Australia as the two worked to come to an agreement for a whole of game CBA. Professional Footballers Australia boss Adam Vivian stated that “It required players taking serious industrial action, and the Matildas being forced to cancel a tour, for FFA to move,” but in the end the results of the sacrifices and concessions made by all of the parties involved will speak for themselves.

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