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Jul 1, 2013

A-League deal guarantees players' pay

With the on-field standard of the A-League at its highest level, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) have delivered a much-needed sense of financial security for players.

Despite all the gains by Football Federation Australia (FFA) since the A-League's maiden season in 2005, the issue of players going without pay has been an embarrassing blemish.

Defunct clubs North Queensland and Gold Coast are the most glaring examples but, even this year, eventual champions Central Coast were late with player payments as the club dealt with a cash crisis.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement announced in Sydney on Monday, after 18 meetings over the course of six months, FFA and PFA have finally come up with an answer by tying FFA's club distribution payments to salaries.

"Our well-documented concerns, particularly around insurance and contract security have been met," Brendan Schwab, co-founder of the PFA, said of the deal which expires in June 2015.

"It's been wrong that it's been a problem in Australia. So we had to address it and, in fairness to FFA, there wasn't a dispute over that.

"The most important (new measure) is the quarantining of the club dividends for players' salaries.

"But there are other protections, for example if there's a change in ownership, and the CBA is quite extensive on those."

The deal will trigger only a slight change in the salary cap, with the current $2.478 million being lifted to $2.5m for the 2013-14 season and $2.55m in 2014-15.

The minimum wage also received a minor boost, up from $48,000 to $50,000 a season.

Schwab admitted it was a modest increase to the salary cap, especially given the new $160m broadcast deal with SBS and Fox Sports.

"The only reason the PFA would agree to that is we're satisfied the players are already taking home more than a fair share of revenue, and now is the time to invest in the security of the clubs and also the security of the players in education and development."

The new deal will help the PFA invest more than $4m in player welfare and education programs over the next two years.

"It's an area where we've been lacking, and we made that clear in the negotiations - that we were falling behind," Schwab said.

"We want to help educate players, not only so they can develop outside football, but make better football decisions. When should I move overseas? Where should I go? When is the right time to make that decision?"

PFA president Simon Colosimo hailed the agreement, saying: "I think it's the first time that the players are part of the solution".

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