Confirmation a second A-League club has stood down players and staff has prompted Australian football’s governing body to plead for a united front during the coronavirus pandemic.
Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) confirmed on Tuesday players at the Central Coast Mariners had been stood down effective immediately as the financial impact of the league’s suspension during the COVID-19 outbreak starts to bite.
The Mariners are the second club confirmed to have stopped paying players and staff following last Tuesday’s decision to postpone the season until at least April 22.
Perth Glory boss Tony Sage made a similar decision over the weekend and foreshadowed he was just the first of many clubs who will take that step.
Just like they did with Sage, the PFA has sent a letter of demand to Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth demanding players be reinstated immediately.
“These actions undermine attempts for our game to overcome common challenges, fight for common interests and re-establish our sport,” PFA chief executive John Didulica said.
“While other codes have fostered unity and demonstrated leadership amid crisis, we are at risk of regressing to the lowest common denominator.”
It’s understood Brisbane Roar also informed players and staff they had been stood down until at least April 22 while Newcastle and Adelaide have also been reported to be considering the move.
The drastic decision is understood to be linked to difficulties with Fox Sports, with the FFA informing clubs a $900,000 quarterly payment from the broadcaster will not be paid during the shutdown.
Despite the difficulties, FFA chief executive James Johnson pleaded with those in the game to pull together during the crisis.
“For our game to come through this successfully, we need to approach our current circumstances in a different way,” Johnson said.
“Importantly, we need to demonstrate leadership which suits this new landscape.
“During this time, Australian football requires considered and thoughtful leadership and for our leaders to help each other and come together to tackle the challenges facing us via open dialogue and in a collaborative spirit.”
FFA has already stood down 75 per cent of its staff following the league’s suspension and is reportedly starting the hunt for a new broadcaster as whispers intensify that Fox is poised to walk out on its $57 million-a-year deal.
Sydney FC chief executive Danny Townsend said it was clear the crisis would have a lasting impact on professional football in Australia.
“What we look like coming out of this is probably different to what we look like going into it,” Townsend told AAP.
“That’s probably every business in Australia, not just football. We’ll just have to adapt with the necessary financial impacts that will come down the line.”
Source: Australian Associated Press