A-League governing body Australian Professional Leagues slashes jobs by close to 50 per cent

Ben Smith
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Jarrod Carluccio of the Glory.
Jarrod Carluccio of the Glory. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

The Australian Professional Leagues — the governing body which runs the A-Leagues - has culled close to half of its staff as part of a major restructuring.

The cash-strapped organisation has reportedly axed up to 40 positions at its head office as part of a strategic review.

It comes amid the APL — who split from soccer’s national governing body Football Australia in 2021 as part of a desire of the clubs to have independent control of the league — currently having to control operations of two A-League clubs, including Perth Glory.

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Sources told the Sydney Morning Herald close to 50 per cent of the 80-odd workers at the APL have or will lose their jobs this week and as part of the restructure, the APL’s digital and content arm KeepUp will be closed down.

An APL statement acknowledged changes to their structure without disclosing the number of redundancies taking place.

“In the three years since un-bundling, APL has implemented a strategy that has seen a period of rapid growth across our business.

“With the original three year strategy coming to an end, a planned full strategic and commercial review has taken place over the last several months.

“The review has identified significant opportunities to create efficiencies through consolidation and this necessitates an organisational restructure that is now underway.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 02: Sydney FC fans dance in the rain as play is delayed due to storms and ightning in the immediate area during the A-League Men round six match between Sydney FC and Perth Glory at Allianz Stadium, on December 02, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Crowds have fallen progressively for the A-Leagues. Credit: Mark Evans/Getty Images

“APL’s priorities remain the same — to deliver commercial growth and sustainability by creating the most exciting competitions possible for our fans — with strong teams producing great young players across Australia and New Zealand.”

Sources told the Herald the job losses were an acknowledgement the APL’s previous strategy was not working and a new vision was needed, which could involve greater collaboration with Football Australia.

The split from Football Australia in 2021 was borne of a desire from the clubs to have more control in the direction of the A-Leagues, similar to England, where the Football Association looks after all levels of the game while the independent English Premier League focuses purely on the top flight of the professional game.

While the divorce has allowed Football Australia, among other things, to help grow the profile of its national teams — the Matildas and Socceroos — A-Leagues crowds have declined and the league has suffered from a lack of relevance in recent years.

In December 2022, the league made the unpopular decision to sell the grand final hosting rights to New South Wales due to “commercial realities”, prompting widespread backlash from fans.

After just one season of grand finals in Sydney, the league pivoted to a Unite Round - similar to the NRL’s Magic Round and AFL’s Gather Round - which was held over the past weekend.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14: A general view of Commbank Stadium prior to Unite Round in the A-League Women round 12 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City at CommBank Stadium, on January 14, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)
Sydney hosted this weekend’s Unite Round. Credit: Jeremy Ng/Getty Images

A total of 47,425 people watched the 12 games played across the men’s and women’s competitions.

The news comes against the backdrop of significant leadership changes at the APL, with divisive former chief executive Danny Townsend leaving for a new job in Saudi Arabia, with new commissioner Nick Garcia and APL chairman Stephen Conroy now heading up the league.

The league is also into season three of a five-year broadcast deal with Network 10 and Paramount+, which expires at the end of the 2025-26 campaign.

US private equity firm Silver Lake owns one third of the APL and $140m for the stake two years ago.

The Glory are one of two A-Leagues teams without an owner, with the club still in receivership after long-time chairman Tony Sage handed back his licence in July.

KordaMentha, the advisory firm appointed as the Glory’s receivers, are also spearheading the hunt for owners for Newcastle Jets, who have been propped up by a series of fellow A-Leagues teams since December 2020.

Perth coach Alen Stajcic last week accused those currently in control of the club of reneging on a deal which would allow them to firm up their playing ranks over the next month, with the club now unable to sign any new players until new owners are found.

Garcia told ESPN the bid to sell the Glory — after a previous deal with Primeland Group’s Robert Brij and business partner John Nekic fell through — was reaching its end.

“(Glory’s) receivers (KordaMentha) are in negotiations, which we expect to conclude quite soon. They have a timeline that is very aggressive.”

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