Tough decisions loom as A-League suspended

FFA chief executive James Johnson says the national body faces "tough decisions" after the coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement of the A-League.

The FFA says it is facing tough decisions as the A-League became the final Australian sporting domino to fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The final rounds of the 2019-20 season have been postponed, effective immediately, with a further status assessment to be made on April 22.

FFA chief executive James Jonson said the decision had been taken due to logistical issues, with the impending closure of several states' borders as well as New Zealand's increasingly onerous controls in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

Johnson said the FFA board and A-League clubs were unanimous in making a "very tough and difficult decision"' after consulting with a national working committee comprising member federations and the Professional Footballers Australia.

The FFA had tried to compress the last few round into a handful of weeks

Clubs had between four and six matches remaining before finals and while Johnson hoped the season could be completed, he wouldn't speculate on when was the latest it could resume.

"To get so close to complete is certainly a disappointment and just to miss out by a few short weeks, is heartbreaking for the players, the clubs and also the fans," Johnson said

"We want to ensure that the players mind frames are that the league will resume as soon as possible, but the reality is we don't know how this virus is going to move."

Johnson, said the FFA and all levels of football would feel financial pressure and there will almost certainly be changes in structure with "everything on the table" after the crisis ends.

"Our bottom line is we have to ensure that the organisation gets through this financially, and we also have to ensure that the stakeholders within the Australian football community can also do that," Johnson said.

"This is going to mean that we're going to have to make some very tough decisions that will affect our operations going forward."

Johnson, who has been in the job for 10 weeks, was adamant the code would survive the latest in a series of challenges it has endured in Australia over 140 years.

"The game has always come through because we are resilient and that gives me great confidence that not only will this game survive, but we will come through on the other side even in a stronger position," Johnson said.

"Whenever there is a crisis or a big challenge, I think you've got to look for the opportunities and there are things we can improve in the game at all levels."

Discussions over the future of the game's broadcast deal with Foxtel are yet to be held, with Johnson saying they were one of several organisations FFA will have to speak to in coming days.

The decision allowed Wellington players and coaching staff, who had spent more than a week in quarantine at a Sydney hotel in a bid to complete the season, to return to New Zealand before the country goes into a complete lockdown.

Johnson also hoped the FFA Cup could be played once action resumes and said the separation of his organisation from the A-League could be delayed, but praised club owners for their cooperation.


AAP