Friday, April 21, 2006

Soccer's $120m TV deal

A major TV deal was struck with $120 million, but sadly it was not in the US. Australian soccer has signed a seven-year deal with FoxSports to broadcast almost all international and A-league matches. This deal is worth $88.6m in US dollars and represents a more than 20 times increase over this $750,000 ($550,000us) season's contract.

The package will give the network 90 A-League fixtures a season, six Socceroos games and up to 98 games across Asia at club and international level. That includes the Asian Champions League, in which two A-League clubs will play from next year, plus Australia's Asian Cup qualifiers and finals.

So what will this do for the A-league?

The A-League clubs – which are carrying crippling and ultimately unsustainable losses from the first season – could receive up to $10 million each, immediately paying the bulk of the players' wages.

With next season's salary cap tipped to be $1.6 million, the cash transfusion will transform the landscape in terms of ability to attract high-profile marquee players with salaries outside the cap, and it opens up the serious prospect of current Socceroos being tempted to return to play in Australia.

It will also give the FFA a war chest of millions to spend on the sport's grassroots development, from coaching to the provision of better facilities at every level of the game.

Not bad for a league that is only one year old. I can only hope that the MLS-ABC deal brings about as much excitement.


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