Saturday night games a huge drawcard: Gallop

Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop believes the Hyundai A-League will attract new fans by simulcasting the competition’s biggest matches on Saturday night in prime time on free-to-air TV along with Fox Sports.

A new six-year deal worth $346m with Fox Sports, Foxtel and News Corp Australia was announced at FFA headquarters on Tuesday.

Football Federation Australia announces new broadcast deal

The value of the deal is set to increase in the new year, with FFA still to sell one match in prime time on free-to-air on Saturday nights, while international rights and digital are yet to be finalised.

But it’s the prospect of simulcasting the competition’s biggest matches – including derbies in Sydney and Melbourne – on free-to-air on a Saturday night which Gallop sees as a huge win for football fans.

“Those big games and the atmosphere at them, whether they are in Melbourne or Sydney is something special in Australia sport,” Gallop told reporters.

“We need more people to see that and experience that. If they do that then they’re a better chance of wanting to take up all five games that are available on Fox Sports.

“We are excited about our ability to showcase those big matches because we see them as something of high value but also something that can open people’s eyes, who are not necasarily football fans, to what the A-League has to offer.”

Caltex Socceroo Tim Cahill and Matilda Kyah Simon (Centre) at the announcement of the new broadcast deal in Sydney.

Gallop said the FFA had spoken to a number of free-to-air broadcasters, with all expressing an interest to show the Saturday night match.

FFA Chairman Steven Lowy was confident the new broadcast arrangement would help broadcast the game to a larger audience of mainstream Australia.

He also confirmed possible expansion of the competition had been factored into the negotiations, but how and when that would happen was for the board to consider.

“Expansion for expansion’s sake is not what we’re about. But expansion that adds to the overall game and creates more value and more growth is what it’s all about,” Lowy said.

“We’ll take our time and make sure we get it right but it’s certainly contemplated to occur during this time frame.”

Fox Sports CEO Patrick Delany added: “We see this as an investment in the future and it’s a great investment because this train has huge momentum because this is a league that’s emerging and becoming a of real world standard.”