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TV networks to sway A-League expansion

AAP logoAAP 8/12/2016 Emma Kemp

Football Federation Australia has asked TV networks to state their preferred A-League expansion club locations as part of negotiations for what they hope is a bumper new broadcast deal.

The long-anticipated agreement moved a step closer on Thursday, the deadline for network executives to submit their tender documents.

With two new teams to be added in the 2018-19 season - within the next four-year broadcast cycle - TV rights negotiations have become inextricably linked to expansion.

So much so that FFA chief executive David Gallop revealed the desires of networks would partly dictate where the governing body chooses to introduce those teams, on the premise that a deal's value could differ vastly depending whether a new franchise is based in southern Sydney, Brisbane or Tasmania.

"We want them to indicate when they come to us their attitude to not only expansion, but expansion where," Gallop said.

"It's not appropriate to go completely into the detail of discussions with media companies, but we have indicated that we're looking at the feasibility of adding teams.

"We want to add teams and therefore we've asked them for their view of a competition that is 12 teams, not 10."

Gallop said FFA was "not quite" pre-disposed to certain markets but conceded "it's certainly something that has been clear in our thinking for a number of years now".

"I've said for some time, expansion is more than the ability to set up a sustainable operation in a geographical location - that's only half the equation," he said.

"The other half of the equation is adding value to the whole competition and the game, in the sense that you provide something that is of value to our broadcasters, our national sponsors, and therefore the overall pie grows."

It means some expansion bidders could, for all intents and purposes, be out of contention even before FFA release their criteria in February, given the governing body hope to sign a new broadcast deal in the next couple of months.

Close to a dozen different parties are waiting on that criteria before they progress further with their proposals.

FFA are hopeful of a significant increase on its current deal worth $40 million a year, though Gallop recently tempered expectations of hitting their ambitious target of $80 million a year.

It's believed Optus, beIN Sports and most free-to-air networks have shown interest.

As incumbent rights holders, Fox Sports have last rights.

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