Two W-League club insiders and at least two club owners have expressed grave fears that next season’s competition may be radically different.
With COVID19 wreaking havoc on FFA’s already precarious financial position, there is growing concern among the women’s football fraternity the 2020/21 season, expected to start in December may not happen or could be delayed significantly.
A former Matilda with inside knowledge even stated: “Yes it has hit everyone, it’s going to be tough. I don’t see W-League going ahead.”
Each club apparently receives $200,000 from FFA for their W-League program, with the total $1.8M injection in jeopardy considering FFA’s cash flow has been severely dented by the reduced Foxtel TV deal and the loss of major sponsors including Hyundai, Caltex, Aldi, NAB and Harvey Norman.
FFA are estimated to have lost nearly $40M in revenue this year.
The reduced $32M Foxtel deal only had a $27M cash component which covers the A-League, W-League and both national teams.
New club Macarthur FC have also asked for a discount in their licence fee in light of the major loss in value of the A-League.
In fact the Bulls and Western United are both owed $20.75M by the FFA which reflects the licence fees they were required to pay, which was supposed to be paid back over the course of the previous Foxtel deal which expired in 2022. With United so far paid back around $3M, this means nearly $18M of FFA‘A total liabilities ($58M as of 2019) is from their own clubs.
It is estimated it costs clubs around $500-800,000 to run their W-League program each year. With FFA and each club on tight budgets, it is feared the premier women’s competition may be pushed aside especially since so many Matildas have left to go overseas.
FFA have strangely remained relatively quiet about the W-League in the six weeks since the announcement of the 2023 World Cup bid success. There has been no clear timetable for next season announced, nor any chatter about marquee players and crucially, no hint of what the TV coverage may look like.
The last part is especially alarming considering a record high 879,000 Australians watched the W-League on TV last season, a 43% growth on the previous year. The $32M post COVID19 Foxtel deal signed in June would require the W-League to go ahead.
If the W-League season didn’t go ahead, it would be a major blow to FFA especially in light of the successful 2023 bid.
A number of players, coaches and club owners have privately lamented FFA’s failure to take advantage of the hype surrounding the bid success, much of which has been lost over the past month and a half.
There was expected to be a major flow of funds coming into women’s football since the hosting rights were awarded to Australia and New Zealand, but with governments and the corporate world all struggling, it appears this may not be as big as previously predicted.
The PFA and FFA have been contacted for comment.