FFA CEO David Gallop says interrupting the Hyundai A-League for FIFA international windows will harm the league’s future financial viability and could potentially risk future expansion plans.
"The commercial reality for our owners who heavily invest in their clubs is that stopping the A-League for FIFA windows will adversely affect our broadcast value," Gallop told Fairfax Media.
"That's less money coming into the game. That affects the sustainability of the A-League and its clubs, and puts future expansion at risk.”
David White, former Ten network head of sport, now managing director Australia for World Sports Group, says stopping and starting the Hyundai A-League for international breaks would turn off broadcasters who place great value in consistent scheduling.
"Broadcasters value consistently in scheduling and fixturing. People have got to know when the matches are on and they tend to develop a regular viewing pattern based on what they're used to," he told Fairfax Media.
"As the season goes on and gathers momentum, and there's an expectation that as interest, ratings and commercial interest builds, you'll be able to provide that consistent content.
"To put a pause in the season threatens to disrupt the interest and expectations that viewers, advertisers and commercial stakeholders have.
“It can take a while to get going again. From a broadcasters’ point of view, any break would be very detrimental to value."
Given the importance of the current - and future - broadcast deals to football’s ability to continue growing, it’s understandable that scheduling takes precedence.
What’s more, some would argue having stars away on international duty gives squad players and youth team rookies a chance to shine on the big stage.
And players could potentially become more versatile by taking on different roles (as seen by midfielder Rashid Mahazi of Victory who lined up as a full-back against Sydney FC).
The changes clearly didn’t trouble Victory too much, leaving Sydney with a valuable 0-0 draw.
"I wouldn't say that just because other countries do break for FIFA dates that it's the right thing for their domestic leagues, either," White added.
"I would suggest that if there are breaks in their domestic leagues then the broadcasters will have factored in the loss of value accordingly.”
Some would also argue that with such a competitive sporting landscape in Australia, every chance football has to maximise its broadcast potential should be taken, particularly during the ‘clear air’ of October and November.
"Here in Australia we have a unique situation of massive competition in professional sports but with a limited population to go with it," White said.
"AFL, NRL, Super Rugby and cricket all take their slice of television money and sponsor dollars. Football is clearly the emerging sport – there is no doubt about that – with tremendous momentum, but I think it would be a foolish move to break the momentum the A-League currently has."