Crunch meeting to decide A-League central distribution

George Clarke |

A-League Men champions Central Coast Mariners will be among the clubs hardest hit by a funding drop.
A-League Men champions Central Coast Mariners will be among the clubs hardest hit by a funding drop.

A-League clubs are bracing for a period of significant belt-tightening as they wait to learn the extent of their reduced central distribution for next season.

After months of delays, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) board will hold a meeting on Wednesday to ratify clubs’ allocated funds for the 2024/25 campaign.

Club sources have indicated they expect to receive between $800,000 and $1 million from head office for next season.

That would represent a significant drop from the distribution of about $3.6m in 2018, when clubs began agitating to unbundle from the sport’s national governing body Football Australia (FA).

Any reduction would hit the smaller A-League clubs the most, but the APL is hopeful of making the business break-even for the first time since its split with FA at the start of 2021.

The move follows the APL making mass redundancies earlier this year.

The change in financial outlook comes after several mis-steps since the APL took over the running of the A-Leagues.

Among them were propping up Perth Glory after revoking the licence of then-owner Tony Sage, the significant outlay on the leagues’ since-disbanded digital arm, KEEPUP, and a trigger-laden TV deal with Network Ten.

Some clubs have reached out to FA in recent weeks to gauge the governing body’s appetite for taking a more hands-on role in the running of the A-Leagues.

FA has yet to comment publicly on whether it would step up to help the competitions survive.

The reduction in central distributions was flagged last week by Central Coast Mariners owner Richard Peil, who told members the A-Leagues’ financial outlook “isn’t good” despite the APL receiving $140m from private-equity firm Silver Lake after the split with FA.

“I don’t quite know just yet exactly how it got to this point and where all the money has gone, but I’m committed to finding out and ensuring accountability is enforced,” Peil said in an email to Mariners fans.

“The state of the league unfortunately means that our club’s distribution is likely to be reduced by over $1m for this upcoming season.”

AAP