Commonwealth Bank of Australia still stalled but soccer union and Football Federation Australia set for further talks

The players union and soccer’s governing body, the FFA, have still to resolve their impasse over the new CBA nearly a month after the previous agreement expired.

The salary cap freeze for the next two years has been the major sticking point, while the players also believe that the FFA is being too restrictive in tying any future increase on the current $2.55 million cap to the increase in the next TV rights deal.

The players want 30 per cent of the revenue of the total game to be funnelled into player wages, while the FFA has offered to lock in a 30 per cent share for the players of any rise in the next TV broadcast deal.

The game’s governing body says it simply cannot afford to be more generous, that clubs are doing it tough, that many players are earning more than they might have expected to and the game as a whole needs to tighten its belt until it can generate higher revenues through a better television rights contract.

In addition, it has offered other discretionary areas within the new agreement where increased wages can be paid, but as they are discretionary, not every club is guaranteed, or has to, pay them – something the union believes could institutionalise the haves and have-nots.

According to the PFA, the players union, locking a salary cap rise to the TV deal is too narrow a focus.

In a position paper earlier this month, Adam Vivian, the union’s chief executive, said: “In essence they are committed only to sharing broadcast revenue and no other revenue stream despite the obvious impact that the players have on this and the role they are willing to play in increasing them. In essence the players are not incentivised to grow the game because they will not share in the wealth that their efforts generate.”

The FFA is reluctant to clinch a long-term deal guaranteeing salary cap rises because it has not signed a new TV agreement. It is unsure of the sponsorship and marketing landscape over the next few years and does not want to commit its clubs, many of which are struggling, to meet cost pressures it cannot service.

Meanwhile, top Australian players are leaving the A-League for better-paying Asian clubs, something the union claims is linked to the stagnation in the salary cap.

Players such as former Melbourne Victory skipper and current Socceroo Mark Milligan quit to go to the Middle East this month, although he, as the club’s marquee player, was not paid under the cap.

Others to have moved in recent times include Socceroo centre-back Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney to Hangzhou Greentown in China), Roar’s championship-winning captain Matt Smith (Brisbane to Bangkok Glass), Melbourne Victory’s title-winning defender Adrian Leijer to Chongqing Lifan in China, Nathan Burns from Wellington to FC Tokyo in the J-League, and Mitch Duke from Central Coast to Shimuzu S Pulse in Japan.

Undoubtedly some players do go for extra money, although some will be moving for career reasons, to put themselves in the shop window in better-known competitions such as the J-League. The PFA argues that if the salary cap continues to be frozen this trend may increase.

The union and the FFA do maintain a dialogue, however, and further talks are expected this week.

The Sydney Morning Herald