Football Australia explored the possibility of selling the Matildas, Socceroos and the A-Leagues to a private equity firm just three years ago.
The proposed deal was for 99 years – and also would have seen the current TV broadcast deal abolished, with fans instead to be offered a direct streaming service for $25 a month.
Ultimately it was felt the commercial risk was too high to proceed.
Another part of the deal would have involved commercialising the data of all Australian football participants – including children as young as four – in a move which would have resulted in privacy concerns.
In late 2020, Football Australia considered the bold approach from the equity firm which, if successful, would have seen them control the code’s major assets.
Football Australia explored the possibility of selling the Matildas, Socceroos and the A-Leagues to a private equity firm just three years ago (pictured, Matildas superstar Sam Kerr)
The proposed deal was for 99 years – and also would have seen the current TV broadcast deal abolished, with fans instead offered a direct streaming service for $25 a month (pictured, Socceroos defender Kye Rowles looks to tackle Lionel Messi)
They include domestic and international broadcast rights, sponsorship assets, merchandise and ticketing to the Matildas, Socceroos, the A-Leagues, youth leagues and e-sport leagues.
FA and the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) would have held a majority stake in the new legal entity, with a minority holding sold to a new investor. FA and the APL would have each held a 50 per cent share of the majority stake, according to The Guardian.
It was suggested a third-party investor, potentially a sports marketing group, would then have bought into the entity and offered digital, technological and media expertise.
Anticipated profits – to the tune of $150million – would then eventually be returned to FA and the APL, as well as investors.
While the proposal was not implemented, it is reported to have reached an advanced stage.
A significant stumbling block was the commercialisation of participant data.
It was outlined that the ‘control of community digital assets is politically sensitive’ and would be met with opposition, namely surrounding privacy concerns, of the estimated 1.5million Australians involved in the sport as players, coaches, volunteers or referees.
Another part of the deal would have involved commercialising the data of all Australian football participants – including children as young as four – in a move which would have resulted in privacy concerns
A spokesperson from Football Australia said it was important to explore avenues for commercial revenue – but the code is now in a ‘robust financial position’ (pictured, Matildas young gun Mary Fowler)
A spokesperson for FA said: ‘The consideration of a special purpose vehicle and other various models and commercial initiatives was part of Football Australia’s proactive strategy to think outside the box and consider various proposals to rejuvenate the business during what was a financially challenging period, specifically during the Covid-19 crisis.
‘At that point, concerns about Football Australia’s financial position were widespread. The primary objective was to explore numerous ways to grow commercial revenue for the game.
‘The ultimate decision made and path taken by Football Australia was to unbundle the professional leagues from the organisation. This unbundling was aimed at granting the league and clubs greater autonomy in commercialising and operating the leagues under Football Australia’s regulatory guidance.
‘Such a move allowed Football Australia to focus intently on commercialising the sport by fortifying our iconic brands, such as the Socceroos and Matildas, and on significant events like the FIFA World Cup Qatar and the FIFA Women’s World Cup on our home shores.
‘In terms of data privacy, Football Australia did take into consideration the implications of commercialising participant details, which was an influential factor in the proposal not progressing. It is of utmost importance for us to ensure the privacy and security of all individuals within the Australian football community, especially our younger participants.’
The spokesperson also stated that ‘as a testament to our strategic decisions and the collective efforts of the football community, Football Australia currently finds itself in the most robust financial position it has ever enjoyed.’
It is understood the radical proposal did not garner support by a majority of the FA board.
The proposal was believed to be backed by FA board members aligned with the APL.