June 20, 2020 / 12:03 AM / 16 days ago

Soccer-A-League secures new TV deal, to start next season late

SYDNEY, June 20 (Reuters) - Concerns that the resumed Australian A-League soccer competition would not be televised ended late on Friday with Football Federation Australia (FFA) reaching a broadcast deal stretching until next July with a realignment of the 2021 season.

The A-League was halted in March because of the novel coronavirus outbreak but is due to play the last six rounds of matches on July 16, with the playoffs to be completed by late August.

The new agreement with rights holder Fox Sports means the next A-League season would start in December and run through until July 2021. It had normally been played from October until May, through the entire southern hemisphere summer.

“The pandemic has created uncertainty and accelerated disruption to the sports media sector and to football here in Australia and abroad,” FFA chief executive James Johnson said.

“This new agreement adjusts to this new reality, secures the immediate future of football in Australia and provides flexibility for FFA to lay a foundation to transition into a new world for Australian professional football.

“The shift in the timing of the next A-League season is a strategic decision to enhance the alignment of our top tier professional men’s league with the grassroots playing season of the largest community sport in the country.”

The shutdown affected professional sports and broadcasters, who were left scrambling for content and faced declining earnings.

Local media reported this week that News Corp-owned Fox Sports was attempting to renegotiate their A$57 million ($38.94 million) per year agreement and “reviewing our Australian football offering”.

$1 = 1.4637 Australian dollars Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Grant McCool

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