Standoff: Players dig in over A-league salary cap freeze

Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) remains at loggerheads with A-League clubs and the game's governing body over the allocation of revenue.

A mass meeting tonight of the PFA A-League, Socceroos and Matildas members rejected a collective bargaining agreement with Football Federation Australia.

The proposed A-League salary cap freeze remains the chief sticking point with no resolution in sight after clubs earlier labelled the union’s demands as “unrealistic”.

The current CBA expired on Tuesday while the Matildas agreement winds up on July 31.

A-League boss Damien de Bohun has dismissed suggestions of a "salary freeze" but PFA Chief Executive Adam Vivian said players remain resolute.

“The PFA went into the negotiations with the intention of establishing a ‘whole of game’ collective bargaining agreement with Football Federation Australia (FFA) to cover all Socceroos, Matildas and A-League players," Vivian said.

He added: “Clearly the players cannot accept this proposal.

“The proposed A-League salary cap freeze remains a significant issue to overcome in the negotiations. FFA’s refusal to contract to a model that guarantees the players receive a fair and equitable share of revenue is unacceptable.

“The flexibilities contained in the proposal fail to provide the players with the same level of economic certainty afforded to A-League clubs, nor do they address the players’ concerns regarding short-term contracting and the precarious nature of the career path.

Football Federation Australia and A-League clubs had reaffirmed the previously offered collective bargaining agreement is still on the table.

But PFA President Matt McKay said the players were united in seeking an agreement that continued to build on the growth achieved under the previous CBA.

“The game has never generated more revenue than it does now and the losses attributable to some clubs are unrelated to player payments,” McKay said. “They are purely the result of mismanagement and poor governance.

“The players have been the most consistent voice in Australian football in advocating for measures that ensure the wellbeing of the game and the wellbeing of the players. Our claims are affordable, expertly devised and continue to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders.

PFA Executive member Kathryn Gill added: “The Matildas have shown the world what the nation’s elite female players are capable, this follows our men’s exceptional results with Australia now the Champions of Asia for both club and country.

“The Matildas currently undertake a full-time workload for part-time wages, whilst in the A-League as of June 1 over a quarter of the competitions’ players were out of contract and facing a hugely uncertain future. Despite this the players have continued perform.”

PFA Executive member and Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak backed Gill’s comments and said the players would not accept a proposal that restricted the prospect of growth.

“The players are determined to establish an agreement that ensures our national teams can compete and excel on the world stage and allows our clubs to continue to thrive in Asia.

“The players remain committed to continuing negotiations with FFA and will not waiver in their pursuit of an agreement that delivers on Australian football’s enormous potential.”

Vivian said the players were committed to:

•             building the economic strength of Australian football;

•             establishing a genuine career path, in terms of remuneration, player development and wellbeing programs;

•             ensuring Australian footballs’ international competitiveness; and

•             enhancing the attractiveness of the code.

Instead, he said, the current proposal:

•             reduces Socceroos payments, which fails to acknowledge their recent outstanding performances;

•             freezes the A-League salary cap for the next three seasons, despite four years of wage restraint;

•             inadequately address the players’ concerns regarding the short-term and precarious nature of their career path; and

•             does not meaningful address the significant issues the players continue to face in transition from the sport.