A-Leagues eye government funding to capitalise on Women’s World Cup success

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) is pushing for government funding of more than $12 million to help the Liberty A-League capitalise on the Matildas’ magical Women’s World Cup run.

The APL’s submission aims for $10.2 million of investment from the league and clubs to be matched by $12.2 million from the federal government.

Plans include expansion of the A-League Women, signing Matildas marquee players, boosting broadcast deals and putting on major events including all-star games.

There is also a push for a professional development fund and creating pathways for female coaches, along with greater engagement with community football.

“We’re not asking for outlandish things,” APL chief executive Danny Townsend told AAP.

“There’s commitments to a stadium in Tasmania for AFL to the tune of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. 

“We’re not asking for anywhere near that to shore up the future of the biggest participation sport in the country that is enjoying a moment in the sun on the global stage like no other for women’s sport in its history. 

“Our ask is genuine, it’s authentic in the way we’ve gone about it. And the feedback we’ve got from the politicians is everything in that submission makes perfect sense and should be delivered as part of this legacy. 

“But that commitment is something we haven’t had confirmed to this point.”

Townsend said the league’s absence from promised funding to date was a “glaring omission”.

“It should be concerning to all those people that are supporting the Matildas,” he said.

“Because every one of those Matildas has come through the development pathway that is the A-League Women, and to compromise that pathway through a lack of funding is a concern.”

The league has already expanded to a full home-and-away season and 12 teams but Townsend said “this type of investment in the women’s game can transform it”.

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“The A-League Women is a top-10 league in the world at the moment, arguably top-five league in the world,” he said. 

“This type of money and investment can make it a top-three league in the world, a genuine destination league for female footballers around the globe. 

“The other thing that it will do is shore up the talent pathway for future World Cups so we can ensure that the Matildas continue to be competitive on the world stage.”

Having Matildas in the league is also a focus, with penalty shootout hero Cortnee Vine set to stay at Sydney FC for at least another year.

In terms of marketing to build attendances, Townsend noted it was difficult for the league to compete with FIFA’s sponsors during the World Cup, but said there would be a push after the tournament is over.

The fixture list for next season is expected to be released within the next week

“It’s about what happens after the World Cup,” Townsend said. 

“And ensuring that those many millions of people that have attended women’s football matches, most of them probably for the first time, realise that if the game’s going to succeed here, they need to support the domestic game.”