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Sunday, January 17, 2021

A-League cautious on competition return

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has re-confirmed its intention to resume the A-League 2019/20 season as soon as possible.

The governing body’s chief executive, James Johnson, says there is an agreement between the FFA and clubs that the season will be completed.

“We will resume play as soon as possible, and the first stage would see the players return to training,” he says.

“We would then schedule matches. It is difficult to see that process beginning before the end of May, but we will work with all stakeholders to achieve the earliest possible resumption.”

The FFA has identified a number of criteria that need to be met before a firm date for the resumption of the A-League can be set.

These include player and staff health and safety threshold requirements; state and federal border restrictions being lifted; large gathering restrictions allowing for the required squads and support staff to gather; and social distancing protocols being agreed with governments to allow the holding of professional games.

The FFA confirmed that it is in ongoing dialogue with government health authorities on all of these elements.

“Our priority remains the health and safety of all players and staff and we will need to be satisfied that appropriate measures are in place to ensure this,” Johnson adds.

“Secondly, we will need to meet all government restrictions in place at the time, including state or territory border controls.

“Finally, any decision to resume will be made in full alignment with the government and its medical advisors.”

The FFA states it will continue to work with the clubs as well as its broadcasters.

However, Foxtel has caused concern over the competition’s future after it reportedly failed to transfer a scheduled $12 million payment to the FFA as part of its six-year rights agreement.

Sydney FC sat atop the A-League ladder with 48 points, eight clear of second-placed Melbourne City, when the competition was postponed last month.

Newcastle last played on 23 March, with the Jets beating City 2-1 at McDonald Jones Stadium.