A-League club bosses want a piece of $12 million Socceroos budget

A-League owners are pressing Football Federation Australia to slash the Socceroos' $12 million annual budget and plough the savings back into the clubs, a move derided as “extraordinary” by outgoing FIFPro boss Brendan Schwab.


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Several club chiefs urged new FFA chairman Steven Lowy to act at last week’s summit meeting in Sydney in a ploy aimed at boosting the competition's coffers.

But Schwab, who in his previous post as the head of Professional Footballers Australia negotiated a 30 per cent share of all FFA revenues for the A-league players, the Matildas and Socceroos, insisted the owners would be better off focusing on maximising revenues through "better membership programs and better marketing, rather than just taking away from a critical playing group which has qualified for the last three World Cups, and has given the game credibility at home and abroad".

“It’s an extraordinary way to approach things,” added Schwab, who this month switched from vice president of the world players union, FIFPro, to an overarching role as Head of UNI World Athletess.

“The fact the owners meet and this is the issue to come out means they must lack a strategic bent.

“The Socceroos earn around 50 per cent of the Wallabies or Australia's Test cricketers, so suggestions they are overpaid is just not right.

"They are also obliged to undertake commercial appearances to allow FFA to generate revenue, their commitment is unquestioned and they have delivered in spades down the years."

While the majority of A-League clubs bleed in excess of $1 million a season in losses, it’s believed the Socceroos earn around $1.5 million in match fees per year - which rises significantly in a tournament year. Business class travel, lavish hotels and daily allowances also inflate the bill.

Some of the owners have even suggested the national team play for no remuneration at all.

"If you say they shouldn’t get paid to play on an ideological basis then the national team should be broadcast on the ABC, and fans should be entitled to attend the games free," Schwab countered.

"There should also be no sponsorship involvement at all. You can’t have it both ways."

While FFA announced an extension to their partnership with Qantas on Tuesday, with the official airline of the Socceroos and Matildas now increasing sponsorship to also include the A-League and W-League, the men's senior national team - who remain without a naming rights sponsor - currently swallow around 60 per cent of the international budget designated for the nine national teams.

"The major cost in Socceroos’ program is the staff, the travel, the coaching ... it’s not really the player payments," Schwab pointed out.

“If you subtract what the Socceroos’ cost, even in World Cup year, which is largely funded by FIFA, there would be perhaps another $500,000 perhaps for each club, but in most years you are talking about $250,000.

“It’s an emotional issue which doesn’t really survive any scrutiny. The players have a fair deal which takes into account the huge amount of international travel which is required.

"Mile Jedinak misses a month of football in the Premier League to play in the Asian Cup, and then has to go back and fight for position.

"Players are flying all over the world balancing club and country commitments. They have been outstanding ambassadors for the game.

"If anybody thinks the Socceroos are not important and relevant to the future of Australian football, then I don't think they were at the Homebush Stadium on November 16, 2005.

"The players have the principle of equal pay: the 23rd person in the squad gets paid the same as the top player, even if they haven’t played a game.

"Which means remuneration for top players is well below what it would otherwise be.”

Other countries vary greatly in how much they pay players - or don’t pay them - for pulling on the shirt.

Across the ditch, The All Whites don't earn a cent, while England players receive about half the pay of the Socceroos, although they receive substantially more for commercial engagements.

The Spanish team netted in the vicinity of $900,000 each for winning the 2010 World Cup.

Across the globe, the vast bulk of the 209 national teams don’t pick up anything at all, other than caps.

Schwab nominates Denmark, the United States and Australia as the leading models in how things should be done.

“All three have embraced a professional collective bargaining relationship,” he said. "Our team are well paid for qualifying because it holds so much importance for us.

“Some teams are well paid when they get beyond the group stages at tournaments, then you have some of African nations whose administrators try and deny them a fair share, which usually happens on the eve of the World Cup as your saw with Ghana and Nigeria in Brazil.

"We haven’t had a dispute of any note since 1997."

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5 min read
Published 15 December 2015 at 9:49am
By David Lewis