Football Australia Almost Made Historic Sale

Julian Miller
Julian Miller
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Potential Sale by Football Australia Could Have Changed the Face of Football in the Country for the Next 99 Years.

News Insights

  • Rights to National Teams
  • Rights to A-Leagues
  • Data of all football participants, including children

It was recently reported that Football Australia had explored potentially selling off the rights to Socceroos, Matildas, and the A-Leagues for 99 years. It would have become the largest privitasation of football in Australia had it gone through.

Privacy Concerns Help Kill Deal

Football Australia had very nearly completed a deal that would have resulted in the rights to Matildas, Socceroos, and teams from the Australian Professional Leagues sold to a private investment group. The FA and APL would have held a majority stake in this new entity, with the new investor getting a minority stake. The FA and APL would have each held half of the majority stake.

The new entity would control both the domestic and international broadcast rights, merchandise and ticketing, and sponsorship assets to not only the A-Leagues, Matildas, and Socceroos, but to e-sport and youth leagues, as well as any participant data spanning the entire Australian Football pyramid.

Though the investor has not been revealed, it is thought to be a private equity firm or perhaps a sports marketing group. The thought is that the purchase would see the addition of technological, media, and digital expertise from this new group. Any profits would be returned to the three parties – the FA, the APL, and the new investor – over time.

A 99 Year Investment

Perhaps the most important part of the proposed deal is the fact that it would have spanned the next 99 years. The rights would be held by this collective entity, though the investor would have the right to request that this new entity be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange through an initial public offering.

Though it was ultimately not adopted, it did get to the late stages of an agreement. These steps included market research, detailed financial models, and tax advice. This isn’t something that was merely being discussed in a casual manner.

It is estimated that there are more than 1.5 million participants in Australian Football, including players, coaches, referees, and volunteers.

The Slide Deck

Some of the side deck used to discuss the potential sale has been revealed. It is estimated that over $150 million would need to be raised. That investment would go into a streaming service, digital platforms, and payments to each of the A-League clubs in order to “support investment in improved on-field product.”

A major sticking point despite these talks was the commecialisation of participant data. It is a politically sensitive subject, one that could have caused a major upheaval if the agreement had gone through.

Another hurdle to climb involves involves tax. The FA is a non-profit organization, so any surpluses are not taxed. The goal was that this new entity would be able to maintain that tax-free status. On top of that, a direct-to-consumer platform was discussed, though the logistics of the matter may not have been fully fleshed out.

At the end of the day, concerns over privacy squashed the potential deal. But it raises questions as to whether Australian Football could become privatised in the near future. Knowing that the organisation has explored it, there is no telling what could come of it.