Idiot's guide to the PFA/FFA row

Australia's footballers and administrators are at war over a new pay deal with claim and counter claim through the media – but what’s it actually all about?

Australia's footballers and administrators are at war over a new pay deal with claim and counter claim through the media – but what’s it actually all about?

The row reached boiling point today when Professional Footballers Australia claimed Football Federation Australia had now shut them out of talks, which the FFA later denied.

At the heart of the clash is the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is the basis of the standard player contract for all A-League players, Socceroos and Matildas.

Yesterday the FFA took the unexpected step of dramatically changing the rules for the A-League next season - including freezing the salary cap, allowing two international marquees and introducing new pay flexibilities for long-serving players and unspent salary cap.

But they announced the changes – which go effectively to the heart of the Collective Bargaining Agreement – without consulting players or the players’ union.

Today the PFA called off talks with the FFA in fury that the changes had gone through without their consent.

WHAT THE PFA WANTS THAT THE FFA IS OPPOSING

A contracted share of revenue

The PFA want a guaranteed percentage of revenue for players, roughly between 28-30%. The PFA say the FFA has agreed to that in principle – but refuse to put it in writing, and insist players simply trust the FFA to deliver it.

Matildas Pay

The PFA want the Matildas pay and conditions improved to a full-time professional level, including a parental policy and parity for the W-League with the NYL. The PFA says the FFA have not addressed this. 

Socceroos Pay

Despite being crowned Asian Champions in January, the FFA want to cut payments to the Socceroos by $1.9 million over six years, says the PFA, because of a lack of commercial support for the national team.

Contract Security

With clubs like Newcastle Jets going bust, players have been left out of pocket in the transfer of ownership, with contracts sometimes being axed, renegotiated or unpaid wages not repaid. The PFA says over the past two seasons there is $1.4 million outstanding to players and, over the history of the A-League, there is still more than $3 million owing to players. The PFA say the FFA will not tackle this problem, despite the ongoing crisis at Brisbane Roar threatening to see another repeat.

Transition support 

The PFA wants the FFA to raise its game on supporting players to catch up with rival codes. They say football spends around $2000 on player development and wellbeing per player while AFL spends more than $27,000 per player. PFA research found one in five former players suffer chronic pain and a similar number experience mental health and wellbeing problems. With almost half of the A-League coming off contract last season, and 70 players free agents as of June 1 this year, the PFA wants improved support and full-time Player Development Managers for the Socceroos and Matildas. The PFA says the FFA are not addressing this adequately.

WHERE THE FFA AND PFA AGREE

Most of the new “flexibility” rules, as they’ve been dubbed, introduced in yesterday’s announcement - where clubs can reward long-serving players, bank some or all of their unspent salary cap from the previous year and the second international marquee spot.

WHAT THE FFA WANTS THAT THE PFA DOESN’T

Freezing the Salary Cap at $2.55m

The PFA want the FFA to raise it by $100,000 each year until the new TV deal comes into effect. “Years four to seven would be fine - the problem is the next two or three years,” says a PFA member close to the deal. “We want to smoothly increase the salary cap from $2.55m to $2.65m to $2.75m instead of just a sudden jump from $2.55m to $2.85.”

The PFA insist they are willing to negotiate a deal and were close to recommending an agreement to members until the FFA’s move yesterday.

They say they will now look to take the case to an industrial tribunal unless the FFA returns to the table.

However the FFA insists the deal on offer is the best ever put on the table for professional footballers in Australia.

A spokesman added: “The deal offered to the PFA, if accepted, would deliver the best ever deal for Australian professional footballers across the A-League, Socceroos and Matildas. 

“This comes at a time when A-League clubs face economic challenges and are looking at investing in facilities and academy systems for the long term future that will see sustainability for decades to come.

“We totally reject the PFA’s claims regarding the nature of the negotiations, which from a FFA point of view have always been conducted in good faith and with a desire to reach agreement.”

THE TLA OF THE PFA AND FFA ROW

This row is marked by a plague of three-letter acronyms (TLAs) - here’s what they mean.

PFA - Professional Footballers Australia, the players union founded by Brendan Schwab and now led by Adam Vivian.

FFA - Football Federation Australia, headed in this negotiation by David Gallop who cut his teeth negotiating a similar deal with NRL players.

SPC - The Standard Player Contract, the basic contract every A-League player must sign

CBA - The Collective Bargaining Agreement, the foundation of the SPC, which sets out the salary cap for the A-League and the basic payments for Socceroos, Matildas, W-League and NYL players.

MOU - The Memorandum of Understanding was an ongoing agreement that recognised the PFA’s right to act on behalf of players in negotiations with the FFA. It only ended if either side gave a month’s notice. The FFA gave the PFA notice of their intention to end it last month and unless agreement is reached, it will end on Friday.