New boys want assurances before taking plunge
THE financial fallout from the coronavirus epidemic is set to continue, with question marks hanging over the $3.5 million that A-League entrants Macarthur FC are due to pay Football Federation Australia next month.
With no clarity over when next season will start, or what broadcast deal might underpin it, there is growing speculation that the new club will seek assurances over how much it will receive before making its scheduled payment.
Macarthur owners Gino Marra and Sam Krslovic are due to hold talks with FFA bosses in the coming weeks amid an A-League landscape thrown into chaos by the effects of the pandemic, some four months before the new team were officially due to join the competition.
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But with next season possibly delayed until 2021, and the possibility of losing matchday income if games then are still being played behind closed doors, questions have been raised over whether the Macarthur licence carries the same value it did 20 months ago.
Under the terms of their winning bid to join the A-League, Macarthur paid FFA $2 million when they were given the licence in late 2018 and are due to deposit another $3.5m annually for the next three years, starting next month.
But in return they are due to receive the same sum as the other 11 clubs get from the A-League's broadcast deal with Fox Sports.
That latter figure could fall dramatically, however, with Fox Sports having sought to negotiate a significant cut to the $57 million they pay annually for the rights to show the A-League.
The participation agreement signed by all owners is thought to only guarantee a minimum distribution of $1.2 million to each club, though FFA have lifted what they actually hand out each year to match the rising salary cap.
FFA are certain to push back on any attempts to delay the payment due next month from a club that has gone through a change of ownership and lost several senior members of staff in its brief existence.
One of those former staff members, ex-general manager Neil Favager, is suing the club over claims of suffering mental ill health from his exit in February. The club denies the claims and says it will "vigorously defend" them.
Though the 13 players Macarthur have signed have all agreed to stay with their current clubs while existing seasons are completed, and won't join their new team until September, the coaching staff led by head coach Ante Milicic all officially became Macarthur employees on Monday.
Asked if the club had concerns over the financial ramifications of the coronavirus on its operations, Marra said: "We'll sit down with FFA in coming weeks, and it wouldn't be right to discuss that in advance.
"We look forward to hearing about the plans for next season, but we understand everyone's focus has been on getting this season completed."
Milicic's status as dual coach of Macarthur and the Matildas remains unresolved, with the Olympics delayed until next year.
The former Socceroo had intended to focus solely on his A-League commitments once the Tokyo Games had finished in August, but has yet to work out with FFA whether he will oversee the delayed Olympic campaign.