PFA: Player payments an 'easy target'

Professional Footballers’ Australia have hit back at the Football Federation Australia’s claims they’re “crippling” the game in the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, saying player payments have become an easy target.

The two parties are far from a resolution on the CBA which expired last month, with the PFA’s proposed 30 per cent revenue sharing model the key stumbling block.

A-League chief Damien de Bohun labeled that figure “economic madness” which would cripple the competition and called on the PFA to eliminate their self-interest and look long term.

The PFA are disappointed that the FFA’s proposal has included a salary cap freeze, following four years of restraint, although de Bohun has disputed those claims.

PFA chief executive Adam Vivian told FourFourTwo that revenue had grown in the game and the players deserved reward after accepting modest terms during the 2013 bargaining.

“The growth in the revenue stream currently doesn’t necessarily sit at the federation level,” Vivian said.

“We know the FFA are locked into a broadcast deal for another two years, but there’s not going to be significant uplift in revenues there.

“The clubs’ revenues are growing and that’s why the players agreed to be financially responsible in terms of the very modest increase they took in 2013 in the variation. It was to try and create sustainability within the league and the competition.

“The players have agreed to be fiscally responsible, the federation have got some pressure on them, the clubs are growing revenues, so with those three factors intertwined, it’s hard to point the finger at player payments, particularly when that’s the only controlled spend.

“The player payments do become an easy target at times, rather than looking at the bigger picture of strategic investment.”

Vivian moved to explain why the PFA was seeking a revenue sharing model and why they’d reached the 30 per cent figure.

“Instead of there being that volatility around where player payments go, this figure is what we consider sustainable for player payments and for the league,” he said.

“That 30 per cent figure has informed a lot of our negotiations historically. By international standards, it’s a strong model and it’s very conservative in terms of what is shared with the players.

“In terms of other Australian sports – unlike other codes the investment from players is going to go into four key initiatives, which don’t cascade into the other codes: the Socceroos, Matildas, domestic competition and the player development, wellbeing and transition.”

Vivian also felt some media reports had misrepresented the 30 per cent figure which is of “the overall pie”, rather than on top of individual areas such as memberships, gate receipts and ticketing.

The PFA is hopeful of meeting for negotiations with the FFA next Tuesday, after receiving the latest revised Socceroos and Matildas proposals on Tuesday evening.

Vivian said it was too early to discuss whether the saga could potentially threaten the beginning of the 2015-16 A-League season, due to begin in October.

“It’s far too premature to work out how that’s going to play out,” he said.

“The players haven’t shied away from the fact they want the PFA to explore legal and industrial options, but obviously the ultimate goal for the players at this time is to find agreement in a boardroom with a common law CBA.

“This will ensure they have a voice within the game and be recognized as a stakeholder within the game.”