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FFA land $346m A-League deal with Fox

NZN 19/12/2016 Emma Kemp

Football Federation Australia has promised A-League clubs a significant financial boost from its improved six-year, $346 million TV deal with Fox Sports.

But the governing body won't say how much, and it could be months before impatient owners learn what they'll receive from the increased revenue.

Australian football entered uncharted territory on Tuesday, announcing a bumper $57.6 million a year deal deal that trumps - in both size and length - any previous arrangement with its foundation broadcaster.

Under the deal, Fox Sports will show all A-League games live and maintain rights to Socceroos and Matildas matches.

FFA has also pledged to increase its marquee fund from $1 million to $3 million a season to attract more overseas stars.

Fox Sports chief executive Patrick Delaney said FFA had eked the "last bit of petrol" out of their fiscal tank, as the governing body seeks to grow the round-game in a highly competitive Australian market featuring NRL and AFL TV deals in the billions.

FFA claimed it was more than double its existing broadcast deal "on a like-for-like basis", given most Socceroos games are now excluded and the free-to-air rights for a primetime Saturday night match not yet sold.

Yet the overall deal will still likely fall short of the $80 million a year targeted by Gallop.

His son and successor, Steven Lowy, said the lengthier-than-expected contract would offer more surety as the A-League sets sights on expansion, with Fox consulted about their preferred markets.

"I know for some six years sounds unusual, but it's not unusual when you're looking to set a long-term partnership with long-term goals to grow the game," Lowy said.

"It gives us some certainty to invest in the A-League, W-League and grassroots football.

"This agreement gives us the confidence and capital to do that."

As FFA trumpets their success, the drums are beating in clubland as owners demand to know what slice of the pie they'll receive, with many feeling their current grant disproportionate to the broader revenue generated by the competition.

The Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, recently created to represents all 10 clubs, released a statement after the announcement seeking "immediate assurances" FFA would distribute revenue appropriately.

FFA chief executive David Gallop said clubs were briefed on Tuesday and were on board with an incentivised arrangement for funding beyond the salary cap.

"We've told them we will work quickly to come up with a funding and distribution model that reflects their investment and acknowledges we have responsibilities to other parts of the game," Gallop said.

"We can't set a level today, but I'm confident we can move quickly over the next few months to get to a significant increase for our clubs."

The free-to-air component, pitched at hooking peripheral viewers, is unlikely to be done until the Big Bash League rights are purchased early next year.

Channels Seven, Nine and Ten are prioritising the highly popular T20 competition, but Gallop said all had shown interest in broadcasting the A-League.

Should none come to the table, Fox will broadcast the fifth match as a safety net, but Gallop was confident FFA would get good value in the free-to-air market.

The new deal will end unpopular free-to-air channel SBS's time as a partner of the league.

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