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W-League makes move on pay, expansion

AAP logoAAP 17/09/2016 Ben McKay

Football Federation Australia has signalled for the first time it wants to bring in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for W-League players.

And the national women's football league could expand in size and length if there's the money to support it.

W-League chiefs, player representatives - through Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) - and W-League clubs have established a new taskforce to find a pathway to professionalism.

Unlike Socceroos, Matildas and A-League players, W-League players are without a formalised pay deal.

FFA has admitted that many players have been playing for free in past competitions, with most clubs paying an average wage below $150 a week.

PFA has long called for the institution of a league-wide CBA - which enshrines wage standards and conditions - and it appears to have won the fight.

On the taskforce's agenda are four areas - league structure and format, club infrastructure and player conditions - with agreed targets to be set in each.

FFA chief executive David Gallop affirmed the sport's commitment to female football while announcing the new "working party" in a statement on Saturday morning.

"Football has had a national women's league since we launched the Westfield W-League in 2008/9 and has enjoyed strong growth," he said,

In fact, Gallop sold FFA's commitment short, given it ran the National Women's Soccer League from 1996-2004.

"The common goal of the FFA and the PFA is to lead the way by also establishing a CBA for the national league players. One of the tasks of the Working Party will be to set a realistic timeframe and basis for achieving this," Gallop said.

The move sets up football to compete - both commercially and for talented athletes - with netball and AFL, which are establishing new national women's leagues in 2017, and cricket.

Newly appointed W-League chief Greg O'Rourke suggested his primary concern was ensuring financial viability.

"The focus now is on building a league which is sustainable but more professional on many levels to ensure growth for clubs and players alike," he said.

"We need to ensure the platform allows us to move to more games for the players and fans with the addition of more rounds and potentially more teams.

PFA boss John Didulica said he wanted to build "a women's football competition of global significance" that would improve the Matildas.

"Building the W-League into a sustainable professional competition will establish a platform for the hundreds of thousands of young girls currently playing football and ensure our ongoing international success," he said.

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