PFA concedes challenges of ambitious CBA are clear

Thursday’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) meeting looms as a key date but the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) concedes it's unlikely to reach agreement before the expiry of the current deal.

The PFA will meet with representatives from FFA, the A-League and clubs as they seek a resolution to the matter.

The current CBA expires on June 30 but the groups remain some distance off agreement with several key issues up for discussion, such as national team wages and the A-League salary cap, despite heading into their 22nd meeting.

“We’ve worked very diligently and very hard in good faith to try and get a deal,” PFA CEO Adam Vivian told FourFourTwo.

Due to the delicate nature of negotiations, Vivian was cagey when discussing key issues and resolutions tabled.

One of the major challenges has been the PFA seeking an unprecedented ‘whole of game agreement’ in light of the FFA’s Whole of Football Plan.

“It is incredibly ambitious and hasn’t been done in Australian sport,” Vivian said.

“We knew when we were getting into it, it was going to be a big commitment and big challenge.

“It’s fair to say those challenges have certainly presented themselves.”

The agreement seeks to align, to a certain extent, the CBAs of the A-League along with the Socceroos and Matildas, the latter currently competing at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

“We continue to negotiate in good faith, but I think it’s going to be difficult,” Vivian conceded.

“I hope we can find the right resolution for the players as well as the clubs and the league as well as the two national teams.

“We’ve still got some work ahead of us. I’m better off giving a clearer response on Friday to be honest.”

When discussing timeframes, Vivian added: “Unfortunately depending on how Thursday goes, we may have to afford ourselves a bit more time to negotiate.”

Meanwhile, Melbourne Victory captain Mark Milligan was the latest A-League player to leave Australia for Asia, lured by big money at UAE club Bani Yas.

Vivian said the A-League’s salary restrictions meant such situations would arise, but needed to continue to work to remain attractive to players.

Revelations this week that Brisbane Roar hadn’t paid staff and players on time was also reason for concern, given the A-League’s stability and security makes it more attractive than many Asian leagues.

“In Asia we handle a huge amount of cases,” Vivian said.

“Per annum we work on about 320 cases per year as the PFA. A lot of these cases are on contract enforcement in places in Asia.

“Australia, in terms of our uniqueness, being a closed market and having a salary cap in a football market, we need to have all these other areas boxes ticked to ensure we can retain all of our talent.

“We need to make sure the league remains attractive in multiple other facets so we don’t lose our talent.

“Longer-term contracting, security and stability, financially viable clubs that operate under the highest levels of governance so you know as a player that you’re going to get your pay and be paid on time, all your statutory entitlements honoured.

“All those things become great decision making factors.”