There are many in Football circles who were pleased when David Gallop became the CEO of the Football Federation of Australia, as he came to the sport with a proven track record in sports administration. He must also have followed the game professing to be a West Bromich Albion fan!
It is pleasing for him that Australia qualified for the World Cup Finals as his tenure will now be judged on equal terms as his predecessors, John O’Neill and Ben Buckley. Had the Socceroos failed to qualify the landscape would have been a very different one.
One problem that Gallop may face is the that much of the $14million the game will receive for qualifying for Brazil 2014 will have already been spent or allocated.
Coach Holger Osciek will undoubtedly have had a bonus written into his contract, which would have kicked in once qualification was achieved. Guus Hiddink’s reward in 2005 is believed to have been around the $1million mark, Osciek’s is bound to be in a similar region.
To qualify the players have been in camp for three weeks preparing for the three key qualifying games and that would not have been a cheap exercise, but one well worth the cost. The wages to the players alone per game were nudging $250,000.
Now that qualification has been achieved it is reported that a collective bargaining agreement signed in January 2011 will see the 23-man squad in Brazil receive a share in a minimum of $5m. Each squad member who was selected to play in the Finals in South Africa in 2010 received $200,000 each.
That leaves only $10million or less with the support staff wages, flights meals and accommodation. When we take into account that warm up games are going to be vital in the preparation for the finals in Brazil in June next year more money will be burnt up. Each international fixture costs the FFA in the region of $500,000, hence support from state governments to host the games becomes a key component in reducing costs.
What will be interesting is to see how Mr. Gallop manages these funds. For a long time football fans and stakeholders have asked for an explanation as to where this world cup windfall is spent, it would be a gesture that would get many onside if Mr. Gallop was transparent on this issue.
The game desperately needs funding at grassroots level, the proposed roll out of the NPL (National Premier Leagues) needs investment, Coach and referee development could do with being subsidised in order to raise the standards across the country, yet it is unlikely that any of this windfall will filter down to these areas of the game. If Mr Gallop can spirit some money away from the elite side of the game and support the game at the bottom end he will have not only won many people over, but will also have laid some strong foundations that could well assist Australia in qualifying for a fourth or even fifth World Cup Finals in a row.
Whether there is any money left over for such needs only the powers that be will know, but fans and stakeholders around the country would welcome an openness on where this money is going and to whom.
Football has shifted dramatically in the psyche of the Australian public. World Cup Qualification and the chance to be a part of the greatest party on earth has helped that, no other sport being able to match it. With the population growing and football being the sport of choice to many of the new arrivals the game desperately needs this investment at the lower level. A failure to do so will soon slow the momentum that World Cup Qualification brings. Let us hope that Mr Gallop despite having been in the role a relatively short period of time has already realised this and can set aside some of this money to strengthen the sport’s future.