Football Federation Australia CEO James Johnson has confirmed when the A-League returns it will be played in New South Wales and assured that almost every player involved before the season was brought to a halt will be there when it resumes.
The FFA, clubs and PFA (Professional Footballers Australia) reached an agreement on Thursday for a planned return to action, with training to resume in mid-June and games in mid-July.
Johnson revealed more details of the agreed upon plan on Fox Sports News on Friday night, including the health and hygiene policies that will be brought in, how it will impact Wellington and the player payment scheme.
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THE HUB SYSTEM
Johnson confirmed the remainder of the season would be played “somewhere in NSW”, however he added that Victoria’s three clubs would likely play each other in Melbourne before coming to NSW.
That means Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide will have to base themselves in NSW, with Wellington likely to be in the state for seven weeks as its players and staff will need to quarantine for two weeks.
WILL ALL THE PLAYERS BE BACK?
The FFA chief denied reports players were taking an 80 per cent pay cut to finish the season, claiming some players would be paid more than their original deals were worth with the caveat that it would be for a 15-month deal rather than 12.
“This is a difficult period for the FFA, this is a difficult period for the clubs who are the employers, and it’s very difficult for the players as well and we’re conscious of that and we are all also very sympathetic to that reason,” Johnson said. “We worked a framework which has allowed us to extend the season until the end of August which means that the player contracts have also been extended til the end of August.
“Over a 15 month period our players will be paid between 95 and 108 per cent of what they would have earned over that 12 month period.
“Given this has happened in COVID we think it is fair and reasonable, the agreement has been done and I think it’s a fair deal between the clubs and the players and the FFA.”
He added that close to all of the players would be back for the return of the season, with a few exceptions.
“This will be very few and they will mainly be foreign players. It just makes no logical sense for some to come back for four matches, so it’s very few.”
WHAT WILL THE COVID-19 RULES BE?
Johnson said the FFA had been working closely with the German Bundesliga, Premier League and South Korea’s K League to set up the protocols with which the A-League will return.
Clubs will be required to appoint COVID-19 officers to ensure protocols are followed while the league is being played, while players and officials will undergo testing before training resumes.
Players will continue to be monitored daily, with temperature checks taken in the hub.
Handshakes will be banned and ball boys and girls will not be involved.
HOW DO WELLINGTON FIT IN?
Johnson said Wellington Phoenix is on board with the plan to resume the season after dealing with a similar situation when the pandemic first started impacting on professional sport.
Phoenix players and staff will be required to spend 14 days in quarantine on arrival in Australia.
“What we are trying to do is ensure that the players and coaches and staff are in an environment where they can train together,” Johnson said. “An environment which is conducive for professional athletes in a professional football club.
“There is a good level of trust because of our last experience.”