Channel Seven have indicated their interest in purchasing the TV rights for Australian soccer with the Socceroos’ games highlighted by their managing director as a major drawcard.
Lewis Martin, managing director of Channel Seven in Melbourne, gave a major hint that the network will negotiate with Football Federation Australia to purchase the rights of the league and international games and highlighted the growth of the game and the popularity of the Socceroos.
The current TV deal shared between Fox Sports and SBS is set to expire in 2017 and Football Federation Australia is understood to be in the early stages of negotiations with other parties over a new broadcast deal.
The FFA is eager to get the A-League and international fixtures on a major network as part of the next TV deal to further soccer’spush into the mainstream of Australian sport consumption. It is hoped the next deal will come close to doubling the current one which could land the governing body up to $80 million each year, providing clubs with an annual cheque of approximately $5 million each season.
Similar to the current package, the A-League is set to be bundled to a yet-to-be determined extent with Socceroos’ international fixtures in the FFA’s pitch to potential broadcast partners. Speaking at the Money In Sport conference in Melbourne, Martin praised the Socceroos’ brand and popularity and confirmed the network’s interest in televising Socceroos’ fixtures.
“We’re going to be there when the business case supports it but I have to tell you that nothing captivates a nation like the green and gold jersey of the Socceroos,” Martin said.
Seven has dipped into the soccer market recently having broadcast the A-League All Stars’ events as well as Melbourne Victory’s friendly match against Liverpool at the MCG in 2013, which drew a crowd of 95,000. The network previously held the rights to the top tier of Australian domestic soccer when they broadcast the National Soccer League from 1998 until 2002. Their past with the NSL is often a sore point for fans as games were televised on delay late at night, if at all, and mostly on their ill-fated Pay TV station C7 Sport.
However, it appears the network is eager to explore purchasing the rights for the game once again given the enormous rise in popularity since the birth of the A-League in 2005.
“For us it comes down to the discipline of the rights being required and the return we can get, ” Martin said. “We all know about the growth of football in this country and the participation rates.”
© 2015 Sydney Morning Herald | This article first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 18 March 2015.