FFA sets aside 'seven-figure sum' to help A-League clubs recruit marquees
Football Federation Australia will play an increased role in helping A-League clubs identify and fund marquee players, as part of a new four-year strategy that focuses heavily on promoting the domestic competition.
In a more centralised approach than what has existed previously, FFA will from next season invest a "seven-figure" sum into subsidising clubs' cost of signing high-profile international marquees that raise the game's profile in Australia, just as Alessandro Del Piero did at Sydney FC.
The governing body hopes to expand the pot significantly once a new TV broadcast deal is secured next year, and will collaborate heavily with clubs in their recruitment process.
In the past, marquee recruitment has primarily been the responsibility of clubs, with FFA chipping in behind the scenes.
Like much of FFA's plan announced on Tuesday, it hinges on revenue not yet obtained from a lucrative new broadcast deal they hope to land in 2017.
Chairman Steven Lowy said the deal will determine the pace and scale at which the organisation can achieve its goals, that also include an A-League rebranding in the 2017-18 season and investment in digital platforms.
A-League expansion is still off the agenda, as is the creation of a national second tier and promotion-relegation system.
Lowy said the strategy acknowledged the need to hone the wider focus on the Australian game on its "engine" of the A-League.
To that end, FFA will redirect existing resources towards reinvigorating the competition and sacrifice funding in other areas such as futsal and beach football.
"The four-year strategic plan represents a significant shift in emphasis towards our showcase competition, the A-League," Lowy said.
"This is primarily about broadcast rights and commercial partnerships, which are the economic foundation of football around the world.
"The upcoming renegotiation of our broadcast arrangements will be critical to funding our four-year strategy, but some projects can't wait until we wrap up that new deal."
As the 2015-16 A-League season edges towards the finals on disappointing ratings and crowd numbers, chief executive David Gallop emphasised how important it was for FFA to go back to basics and work out how best to market the national competition.
"It's the A-League where we're going to get commercial growth, where we can start to convert the sport into a top-down funded sport," Gallop said.
Gallop hoped extra short-term revenue would be made from large crowds at the Socceroos' upcoming two-game friendly series with Greece, along with high-profile home matches during the second phase of World Cup qualifiers, should they make it.