Feature

Payment problems hurt the A-League not just players and staff

It’s pleasing that the club has caught up with all of their accounts with current players and staff. Indeed, this should always be the situation. It must be the norm. Unfortunately, it’s not.

A-League Rd 26 - Brisbane v Newcastle

Source: Getty Images



The press release from Brisbane Roar on Tuesday afternoon was short - and straight to the point.

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“All A-League players, coaches and administration staff of the club have been paid,” read the first line. “In addition, superannuation payments for all players, coaches and administration staff are up to date.”

It’s pleasing that the club has caught up with all of their accounts with current players and staff. Indeed, this should always be the situation. It must be the norm.

Unfortunately, it’s not. Roughly half of the A-League clubs have had trouble paying their players (in some capacity) over the past decade. It’s not a problem unique to the Roar by any means.

The question needs to be put more pointedly to Football Federation Australia - why are teams being allowed to get away with this?

You don’t hear about it in the AFL. You don’t hear about it in the NRL (unless Nathan Tinkler is involved). It is just a total non-story. So why should the A-League be any different?

I have no doubt the situation has improved at most clubs as the message appears to have sunk in with owners. If you own the club, and can enjoy the glory and status of that, you have to pay up in a timely fashion.

Late payments  - and dishonoured payments - are also a slap in the face to the other owners in the league because an owner who doesn’t pay the bills sullies the entire competition. Not to mention the huge damage you do to your own personal (and business) brand.

The A-League has a hard enough time attracting top class players to these shores without the concern of whether playing here will see you left with unpaid wages. German midfielder Peter Perchtold and Brazilian Robson struck that exact situation during their ill-fated stint at Gold Coast United.

It’s not just players, too. Sacked Central Coast coach Phil Moss took several months to secure his severance package from the Mariners. Branko Culina took even longer to get anything out of Newcastle.

Adelaide had a terrible time extricating themselves from Dutchman Rini Coolen, but the most concerning now is the situation surrounding Mike Mulvey. Sacked just months after signing a three-year deal, the club have so far refused to pay him the money he is owed. It's a really bad look - not to mention grossly unfair.

Nobody likes to part with money, but if there’s a contract, signed in good faith, it needs to be honoured.

Speaking as somebody who has covered this game since the turn of the century, I find it greatly disheartening how money issues continue to crop up in our game. How naive we were to think it would end with the National Soccer League.

The sad truth is that every time problems do arise, they distract the media from covering other, more positive aspects of the game. It’s a pretty well-worn narrative - which some outlets keenly pounce on - and tends to reinforce the sport’s status as a second class citizen.

When Professional Footballers Australia struck their Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2012, it promised to ensure the players’ wages, in the salary cap, were covered in full.

Theoretically, that should have ended the late payment of wages once and for all. But it didn’t. Disappointingly, some clubs still failed their obligations.

Thankfully, most of the A-League owners do the right thing, and continue to spend and spend (often without much gratitude), despite the red ink that spills over most balance sheets.

But the rebels need reigning in. A late payment or two may be understandable, but anything more is unacceptable.

Having successfully re-packaged the Newcastle Jets and sold them to an ambitious new owner, hopefully the FFA won’t be scared to flex their muscles in the future and find the investors the game needs. It's the least the football community deserves.




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4 min read
Published 17 August 2016 at 8:46pm
By Sebastian Hassett