Chief Football Officer sought to overhaul A-League's transfer system
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TransferRoom Blog

On the Move
League Focus
Chief Football Officer sought to overhaul A-League's transfer system
by Jonathan Rest

Football Australia has launched a global search for a Chief Football Officer, who will be tasked with pushing through a domestic transfer system (DTS).

We’re not focused on development, we’re focused on how do we keep our costs down for clubs. A transfer system is a proven concept. It works, we can see it around the world, and if we compare it to what we have at the moment, we have not been focused on developing players.
James Johnson
CEO, Football Australia

The Chief Football Officer will report directly to CEO James Johnson, and has been described by FA as "a once in a lifetime opportunity with a broad remit to transform the technical direction and football development in Australia."

 

The Chief Football Officer and CEO will work together to drive "a broad and bold football structural transformation", including the establishment of a national second-tier competition, a reinvigorated DTS, an aligned domestic match calendar and club licensing.

 

More details on the role and responsibilities can be found here.

 

Domestic transfers returning?

 

The introduction of a DTS is the most significant of Johnson's reform measures that he has instigated since joining FA in 2020.

 

Though still allowed to participate in the international transfer market, Australian clubs have been banned from exchanging money with each other for players since a 1994 Australian senate inquiry into corruption in the Australian system recommended its abolishment.

 

There is significant stakeholder opposition to the proposed DTS from some A-League clubs and Professional Footballers Australia, the players' union.

 

The PFA, in particular, will not accept a DTS without the removal of the A-League’s salary cap. The union also has research which it says proves transfer systems do not appropriately redistribute money from richer clubs to smaller ones, as Johnson and FA argue will happen.

 

Second-tier adjustment coming

 

However, FA is pressing ahead with their plans and will soon announce a change to transfer rules outside the A-League - the removal of an existing clause which caps transfer fees at half the residual value of a player’s contract.

 

By doing so, Johnson says second-tier National Premier Leagues clubs will be incentivised to focus more on developing players because they will earn them more money when they are eventually sold to A-League clubs or elsewhere.

 

Johnson told the Sydney Morning Herald: “It is a provision that can quite easily be removed through one stroke of a pen and the consequence of that is we remove the handbrake, we open up the market and we would let the market determine the value of a transfer fee outside of the A-League.

 

“It’s a big step forward in a longer process. Ultimately what we want is to not be relying on 11 A-League clubs to develop all our players. Japan has 58 clubs developing players every year - we need many more clubs outside of the A-League to be developing players, and this will help them do that.”

 

While A-League clubs will not be directly affected, the move will immediately impact their ability to buy players from the NPL or below. 

 

Johnson continued: “We’re not focused on development, we’re focused on how do we keep our costs down for clubs. A transfer system is a proven concept. It works, we can see it around the world, and if we compare it to what we have at the moment, we have not been focused on developing players.”

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