A-Leagues avoid TV fiasco but financial worries remain

Longstanding broadcasters NEP have stepped in to save the A-Leagues' blushes of an Easter weekend TV blackout after production partners Global Advance were placed into voluntary administration.

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) were forced into a scramble on Tuesday when Global Advance (GA) notified them of their inability to produce broadcasts of this weekend's matches and their intention to enter into administration.

A deal with NEP was finalised late Thursday hours before Central Coast Mariners and Western United met in A-League Women.

"We have reached agreement with NEP Australia to produce all A-League Men and A-League Women matches for the remainder of the regular season and the 2024 final series," the APL said in a statement on Thursday.

"We thank them for their cooperation, flexibility and expertise at such short notice."

Unlike most other codes in Australia, the A-Leagues pay roughly $12 million for the production of their games which are then broadcast on Network Ten and Paramount+.

A TV camera operator at an A-League match.
Global Advance stepped in when the A-League's deal with Fox Sports came to an end. (David Gray/AAP PHOTOS)

GA was founded in 2021 and the deal with the A-Leagues was its first major contract, the latter hoping that partnering with a start-up would help lessen costs.

The APL is believed to be up to $1 million out of pocket after already agreeing to advance payments to GA before it was placed into administration.

"We are disappointed in the manner in which this has come to our attention, and the risk this has placed on our fan, player, club, broadcast and commercial commitments," the APL said in a statement released late on Wednesday.

Action from Sydney FC v Western United in ALW.
Western United visit Central Coast on Thursday as both clubs chase an ALW finals place. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

"We have been let down, and will be working with the administrators to recoup monies owing to APL."

But the demise of GA is the latest strategic black eye for the APL since its unbundling from Football Australia (FA) at the end of 2020.

Earlier this year, the APL laid off nearly half its staff and dismantled its digital arm, KEEPUP, after investing substantial sums in the launch of the new website which was hoped would be a go-to online destination for football fans.

It follows growing fan discontent in the aftermath of the decision to sell grand final hosting rights to the NSW Government, a move which was later reversed and replaced with the league's first Unite Round.

On top of those factors, there is uncertainty over the ownership situation at Canberra United, who remain in the dark as to if or when their ALW outfit will be assumed by a prospective ALM bid.

Newcastle's ownership situation - the Jets have been propped up by rival clubs for several years - continues to be at an impasse with fears for the club's future beyond this season.