FFA secures free-to-air deal for A-League, Socceroos

By Angela Habashy, AAP, Yahoo!7 November 19, 2012, 11:41 am

It was hailed as a "bloody good day" by Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman Frank Lowy as the long-awaited multi-million dollar broadcast rights deal was unveiled.

The $160 million four-year agreement will bring the A-League to free-to-air television for the first time with the rights to be shared between Foxtel, Fox Sports and SBS.

Beginning from the 2013/2014 A-League season, SBS will show one live match every Friday in the deal that ends on July 1, 2017.

The deal delivers $148 million in cash to the game, with $12 million in advertising and marketing, and also means all Socceroos' World Cup qualifiers will be shown on SBS.

The new funds will also allow the FFA to cover the full cost of the salary cap in the grant it gives the 10 clubs.

"This is day that we can say football is here to stay," new FFA CEO David Gallop declared.

"The former sleeping giant of Australian sport is awake. He's out of bed, he's in the street and now has some cash in his pockets," Gallop said at a media conference on Monday.

"This announcement comes at a time when the A-League is showing its true potential as the shop window of Australian football."

Gallop revealed after seven rounds this season, the average crowd figures are up 32 per cent from last season with a 35 per cent increase in average TV audiences.

While big-name marquees like Italian star Alessandro Del Piero, former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey and Japanese playmaker Shinji Ono are a big part of the attraction, Fox Sports' boss Patrick Delany insists they were not a factor in getting the deal over the line.

He did, however, say that a having a team in Sydney's west played a role.

"We were done before all that (marquees) came," Delany said.

"But I think Del Piero and the marquee factor and also the returning legendary Australian players are part of the by-product that the deal adds when the salary cap and all those arrangements are being covered that the clubs are then able to invest.

"We agreed with the Western Sydney team.

"I think it was very important to serve western Sydney so, yes, it was a factor."

Delany also revealed that Lowy "took me right to the edge ... you can rest assured that they've got every cent we're able to provide."

Lowy, however, turned the tables, foreshadowing a hard line in negotiations with the players' union over a new collective deal, insisting that the "existing salary cap arrangements will not change."

He revealed some of the funds will be spent on arranging various international friendlies like the Socceroos' recent game against South Korea in an effort to prepare the new crop of players coming into the national fold.

"These type of games like we had in Korea, in the next year or so, there will be more and more of them to blood these young boys that will take the place of the Socceroos that will eventually retire," Lowy said.

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