Financially-stricken A-League teams are to be future-proofed by their peers, with Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA) chairman Paul Lederer confirming cash will be made available to provide a safety net against extinction.
Speaking at a time when the ownership of the struggling Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners is up for grabs, Western Sydney Wanderers boss Lederer confirmed that when A-League independence is officially completed this month, no club will be allowed to perish, as the likes of Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury have in the past.
In a wide-ranging assessment of what lies ahead for an independent competition in charge of its own commercial destiny, the billionaire businessman explained funds would be at hand to forestall any worst-case scenarios from developing.
Lederer also said he expected the Jets to have a new owner “in a matter of days” whilst confirming recent speculation that Brisbane Roar’s vice-chairman Chris Fong is close to purchasing the club from the Jakarta-based Bakrie Group, who took a controlling ownership share of the three-time champions in 2011.
Lederer also revealed talks with rights holder Fox Sports about extending their recently renegotiated broadcast deal beyond the upcoming season were underway.
In a message of assurance to existing teams and their fans, Lederer told The World Game: “Obviously we need a successful league and to cut a long story short there will be a safety net there (to support any ailing teams).
“Hopefully we’re not going to let any clubs go under ... we want to improve the status of teams rather than go backwards.
“Once we get independence they’ll be no FFA (bailing out battling franchises), as clubs we will all sink or swim together.”
Touching on the drawn-out saga of the Jets’ future post-Martin Lee, Lederer said: “It’s an ongoing negotiation, to be honest.
“I think we’ll see a resolution in the next few days. It has to get resolved soon because the season starts this month.
“There are a couple of interested parties.”
Referring to Fong’s mooted move to take charge of Brisbane, Lederer said: “I believe that could well happen.
“Chris Fong is a good business guy and very capable.
“He loves football and has a lot going for him. He’s financially secure and I think he’d do a very good job.”
On the reactivation of interest in the game from long-time partner Fox Sports, Lederer declared: “There are still discussions to be had with our TV partner, and nothing is over.”
But he also hinted there may be others in the mix also.
“We will talk to the existing partner of course, and anybody else.
“At the end of the day we’ll sit down with them and see what we can do.
“It’s an option - I wouldn’t say it’s the best of the worst at this stage.”
Lederer is confident that the competition - which kicks-off its 16th season on December 27 - will be able to forge a successful path finally free of ties to FFA.
“It’s going to come back to people,” he stressed. “It’s not me it’s a lot of others also, and it will come down to the right structures to take this game to a place where it should have been and can still go.
“I feel the sport has unlimited potential but it has to be done properly.
“I won’t say we will turn a switch immediately but from day one we’ll be up and running.
“We have the vision and know what has to be done.
“It’s been a long time coming - it’s a new dimension in our football world and I think it will take us to a new level.
“We have a great product - we’ve got millions of people participating in the game.
“We’re number one (for participation) in the country.
“Our job is to capitalise on that.”