Despite the FFA expressing confidence that a deal will be struck, sources have told ESPN that A-League clubs will finish off the 2019-20 season with or without broadcast partner Fox Sports.
Speaking via teleconference on Tuesday, FFA Head of Leagues Greg O'Rourke said that the last wrinkles are close to being ironed out and the remainder of the season would kick off as planned on July 16. The final major issue still unresolved is the broadcast agreement with Fox Sports -- over which O'Rourke was adamant that conversations between the governing body and broadcast partner were progressing.
Refusing to be drawn on exactly when the impasse might be resolved, O'Rourke added that Fox Sports and the FFA were now having good dialogue not just around the return to play but also future broadcast commitments.
He stressed that any perceived ambivalence in the negotiations was around the need to finalise a payment deal with the player's union first. Saying that with such a large number of players coming off contract at the end of May, it was imperative that FFA confirmed the product itself was intact before addressing the broadcast situation.
A source close to the clubs has told ESPN that there is no reason logistically that the A-League could not proceed with the completion of the current competition even if there is no broadcaster.
"The money for the hub and other details is already there," the source said. "That's why the FFA kept a portion back from the final Fox instalment. That's to cover the rest of the season, the FFA has the capacity to proceed.
"However, without that revenue stream, the strain on the future -- going into next season, would be huge."
Despite it being financially viable, the FFA says that finishing the season untelevised is not a scenario that they are entertaining.
"Our intention is to have the remaining matches broadcast and to have them broadcast on Fox Sports" O'Rourke said. "We have a draw for a tournament that will provide 27 games in 28 days plus finals, which we are talking through with Fox Sports and ABC."
Given the broadcast deal for the AFL was not finalised until after play resumed last weekend, it's easy to see where Fox Sports' attention has been. However, now that the deals with the NRL, AFL and even Rugby are signed off, questions have been raised about how much appetite Fox really has for the remainder of its football deal.
The reported offer of a paltry $11 million per year (down from $57 million) has been seen as insulting by football insiders and the clamour for the game to take control of its own product grows ever louder.
It seems that the ideal outcome to keep both parties happy would be a realistic renegotiated figure for a further season which would allow some flexibility for FFA to pursue other options while simultaneously giving Fox Sports the path to exit the deal in a more amicable manner.
Televised or not, one hurdle that remains non-negotiable is the return of Wellington Phoenix to Australian shores.
O'Rourke indicated that the public comments from the club regarding their situation were unhelpful but he expects clarity on the final details in the coming days.
"We are still waiting for a couple of government departments approval," he said. "We received a short list of requirements, that will be resubmitted today and we expect that to be signed off in the next 24 hours."
The Phoenix had originally planned to travel on Wednesday but will now be delayed by a couple of days before entering their quarantine facility at Football NSW Headquarters, Valentine Sports Park.
However, should the Nix make the Grand Final and the proposed Trans-Tasman bubble is operational then there is a real possibility that they could fill Sky Stadium and play that match at home.
The NZ side sit third on the table, four points adrift of second placed Melbourne City but with three games in hand, so an eagerness to get settled and make the best of an unprecedented tilt for finals football is understandable.
However, far from claims that they are at a disadvantage compared to other clubs, their situation is not unique and many clubs are sweating on the return of key personnel, such as the Newcastle Jets whose key coaching staff are yet to return to the country.
All overseas based players and coaching staff have been cleared for travel according to O'Rourke and are expected to be arriving back in Australia in the coming days. Following the required 14 day quarantine period, it will be a race against the clock to be ready for kick off on July 16.