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Hope for new A-League deal before kickoff

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/09/2016 Ben McKay

A new broadcast agreement is likely to herald the end of the A-League's consolidation phase and might happen sooner than anticipated.

The new season will kick off on October 7 with Brisbane hosting Melbourne Victory and FFA chief David Gallop holds a sliver of hope the deal will be inked before then.

"There is a window there but it's now a slim one," he told reporters on Friday in Perth.

League chiefs have made little attempt to hide their dismay at poor coverage and promotion from free-to-air (FTA) broadcaster SBS.

A new agreement that would allow long-term broadcaster Fox Sports to on-sell part of the rights to a bigger commercial network could happen this month if the ducks line up.

"We are in an exclusive negotiating period with Fox Sports which expires at the end of September. We're in constructive dialogue," Gallop said.

"As we understand it, all the FTA networks are interested and those conversations are happening as well ... between the FTAs and Fox."

If a deal isn't done before the end of Fox's exclusive window at the end of the month, Optus - which made a splash with a reported $63 million steal of English Premier League rights from Fox - could pounce again.

Gallop said they were "definitely" interested.

"They have made a massive investment in EPL ... we can't actively talk to them during this period (of exclusivity) but they have indicated a strong appetite for the A-League."

Clubs are hopeful of a significant value bump from the current $40m rights deal, which included previous Socceroos qualifiers and the 2015 Asian Cup.

Beyond a deal, eyes will be raised further to where the league could grow.

South Sydney, Auckland, Canberra and Geelong are all possible regions for new clubs.

Gallop suggested they would be selected during the life of the next four-year deal and be in place for the following one.

"I would expect, in the next few years, we would have a more-precise timetable on when expansion will happen and where," he said.

"It will be an important moment in the A-League's growth but, like most sports in Australia, we've made mistakes with expansion in the past.

"For the clubs ... and the division of the pie more than 10 ways, we can't afford to make an expansion mistake.

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