FFA staff face stand-down as COVID-19 scourge on


Football Federation Australia Flag Image: Football Federation Australia

The COVID-19 pandemic fallout has forced Football Federation Australia (FFA) to announce its “regrettable decision” to stand-down approximately 70 percent of its staff.

ausleisure.com quoted FFA Chief Executive James Johnson as saying, “This has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but necessary to stabilize the organization so that it can continue to service the game, albeit in a vastly different landscape.”

“Industries all over the world have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and football in Australia is no different. We are in a situation where grassroots football and the Hyundai A-League are currently suspended, we’ve had the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the deferral of the international football calendar, so virtually all football activity has now ceased for the foreseeable future because of COVID-19,” Johnson further stated.

ausleisure.com further quoted Johnson as commenting, “These developments impact many forms of revenue for FFA, including national registration fees, broadcast fees, sponsorship, ticket sales and Government funding, so we have needed to adjust our operations to ensure that we can remain operational, forcing us to take the unfortunate decision to stand down approximately 70 percent of our workforce.”

Johnson added, “We have an incredible team here at FFA, and I am immensely proud of the work everyone does for football in this country. We have explored ways to retain as many staff as possible, including reducing essential roles to part-time, and asking staff to take annual leave and long service leave. Unfortunately, a number of staff members will have a period of leave without pay. We will continue to operate with a small team, with a focus on continual engagement with fans through digital platforms, supporting our member federations, clubs and the almost two million football participants in this country.”

He also remarked, “I also believe that football has a very important role to play as a good and responsible citizen during these difficult times so we are looking at how we can contribute to our collective efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19. We view this as a temporary stoppage of football. We will be continually reviewing the situation and the impact of COVID-19 on grassroots football and the remainder of the Hyundai A-League season. We need a strong national governing body in place and a team ready and able to get back to work as soon as possible, as football will play an essential role in the recovery of our nation post-COVID-19.”

All other sports are also locked in crisis talks on how best to weather the coronavirus storm.

Despite holding out to be one of the last competitions in the world still playing, the plug was finally pulled on the A-League recently with soccer almost worldwide coming to a standstill.

FFA has on its rolls around 100 people and while some were switched to part-time, others are going on paid leave when possible and “a number of staff members” was forced to take time off without pay. No mention has been made of players taking cuts.

Football is not religion in Australia, but more than two million people play the game and Johnson insisted it was only a “temporary stoppage”.

While soccer was closing in on the end of its season, rugby league and Aussie Rules had just started theirs, and the financial fallout is likely to be worse.

Meanwhile, Australia’s soccer federation battles to remain solvent during a national shutdown to contain the coronavirus.

The FFA suspended Australia’s top-flight A-League recently after travel curbs and social distancing measures made the competition untenable.

International matches for Australia’s national teams have also been suspended indefinitely, along with all grassroots and community soccer.

The A-League was the last of Australia’s major sports competitions to shut down, with the Australian Football League, National Rugby League and Super Rugby having already been suspended.

The number of coronavirus cases in Australia is nearing 3,000 from less than 100 at the start of March, raising fears about a wider spread in the community.

Australia has to date 6,351 coronavirus cases and 61 deaths.

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