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A-League deal cements place as third code

AAP logoAAP 20/12/2016 Ben McKay

When Frank Lowy stepped down as FFA chairman in November last year, he was sure of soccer's place in Australia.

"We were number four and now we're definitely number three, knocking on number two ... we are at the ceiling of number two," he said.

What Tuesday's $364 million broadcast agreement with Fox Sports revealed is that soccer still has some way to claim second spot.

The AFL and the NRL are the runaway giants of Australian sport, yielding $417 million and $360 million annually from their recently-inked broadcast deals.

Soccer is a distant third, pocketing $57.6 million from Fox Sports each year until 2023, a number to be boosted by a free-to-air component to be sold early in 2017.

Steven Lowy, overseeing his first broadcast deal since succeeding his father as chairman, said there was no disappointment from his end.

"It's a very competitive market here with other codes. Australians love many sports ... and we believe we have the ability to grow more than any of them," he said.

"Football sits with a very high-growth trajectory. The first A-League games were in 2005, so we're young.

"Audiences, crowds and club memberships are up.

"We're coming from a lower base but we now have a major capital injection to grow."

The A-League deal puts the ARU and its $57 million annual agreement into fourth place among Australia's football codes.

But of course, broadcast agreements aren't everything.

FFA rightly celebrated an Australian Sports Commission report which confirmed soccer was Australia's most popular club sport to play.

Lowy Jr said the new injection of funds would allow more money at all levels of the game - national teams, national competitions and local soccer.

"This six-year agreement gives us the certainty to continue to implement our strategy to grow the Hyundai A-League and the Westfield W-League and invest more in grassroots football development and the women's game," he said.

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