The A-League and W-League will start their respective 2020/21 seasons in December and finish in July in a move designed to align the elite competitions with the international game and lower-tier competitions.
- The season switch means the A-League and W-League will go up against the AFL and NRL from March to July
- FFA is expected to agree on a revised broadcast deal with Fox Sports
- Both Fox Sports ad the ABC will hold rights to internationals featuring the Matildas and Socceroos
Football Federation Australia (FFA) is set to sign a new A-League broadcast deal with Fox Sports valued at $32 million, which is down from the current deal worth almost $60 million per year.
The one-year deal covers the remaining five rounds and finals of this season and next season.
The current A-League season has been on hold since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will resume in mid-July and finish by the end of August.
The ABC understands FFA is satisfied with the new deal despite the significant price drop, given the current uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, crowds and staging of matches.
Both the NRL and the AFL have recently struck reduced deals with their respective broadcasters.
The ABC will continue to broadcast one match per week of both the A-League and W-League.
The deal also gives Fox Sports the rights to broadcast internationals, including World Cup qualifiers and friendlies involving the Matildas and Socceroos.
The ABC will continue to hold the free-to-air rights for Matildas and Socceroos matches.
The move to change the season start date is partly practical, given the current season would not finish until the end of August.
It will mean the A-League and W-League will be competing directly with the other football codes from March to July.
The men’s professional domestic season has been run as a summer competition since 1989, which was during the days of the now-defunct National Soccer League.
The ABC understands FFA was keen to move towards a winter competition for the elite leagues, which means they will be played at the same time of year as the second-tier National Premier Leagues and Asian competitions, as well as the grassroots season.
FFA will also investigate new broadcast options when the current one-year deal ends, including new TV partners and “over the top” broadcasting methods, such as streaming matches.
The ABC understands one future broadcasting option on the table is for FFA to hold the rights itself.