Football Federation Australia today revealed a surprise 20-year extension to the licence deals of the nine Australian clubs in the A-League, on the eve of an expected sale of Western Sydney Wanderers.
Wellington Phoenix however still has a licence that will need to be renewed in 2016, subject to the approval of the AFC and FIFA as well as the FFA because they are based in Oceania and in a different confederation from the rest of the A-League.
The shock extension until 2034 comes as a deal is expected to be finalised this week for the sale of the FFA-owned Wanderers and FFA CEO David Gallop admitted it will better secure the future of the local clubs which had previously only been licensed until 2020.
“FFA and the clubs have made the stability and sustainability of the A-League the top priority,” said Gallop.
“Today’s decision is consistent with our long-term strategy. The extension will give the clubs the certainty they need over a 20-year timeframe to invest, and will also underpin and enhance the value of the licence.
“The Hyundai A-League is enjoying another great season with attendances, TV ratings, digital audiences and membership all increasing. The licence extension is a sign of confidence that the business model is on the right track for long-term success.”
Gallop said no final decision had yet been reached on the Wanderers sale but admitted that discussions were ongoing.
Manwhile he FFA also revealed the current limit of five visa players would continue to apply next season, but will be cut to four the following season, with feasibility studies still ongoing on a possible switch to the AFC's 3+1 rule.
"The foreign visa players bring so much to the Hyundai A-League in terms of technical ability and marketing interest, but we must also nurture our young Australian players,” said Gallop.
“We have taken a prudent step to reduce the visa limit over a number of years to create more opportunities for local, elite youth players, while acknowledging that the visa players have an important role as we continue to build the competition.
“The idea of a ‘3 + 1’ model being introduced at some stage is aimed at strengthening our links to Asia, where football is undergoing a boom on the technical, professional and business levels.
“This model would align our competition with the AFC Champions League and assist clubs in setting up their player rosters.
“Overall, we view the adjustments in the visa player limits as another step in our strategic plan for the A-League.”