The "unbundling" of Australian soccer is finally complete after years of wrangling, with the newly formed Australian Professional Leagues to take over the running of the A-League, W-League and Y-League from Football Australia.
The deal, which was agreed in-principle earlier this year, was ratified at a board meeting on Thursday. It means the clubs are now responsible for the marketing and commercialisation of the A-League.
A-League club owners have spent years fighting for independence from Football Australia, with the spats turning ugly at times. The owners feel independence will give them more power to grow their respective clubs and help strengthen the ailing competition. Attracting foreign investors is now expected to be easier.
- W-League Review: Micah stands tall for City, Ibini nets stunner
The Professional Leagues will operate under the umbrella of Football Australia as the top tier of domestic league football competitions in Australia. The APL will take over the operational, commercial, and marketing control of the Professional Leagues and all revenue generation responsibilities.
Football Australia will still be responsible for items such as expansion, contraction, promotion and relegation, the AFC Champions League, FFA Cup, and all other domestic and international competitions.
"This is an historic moment for the future of football in Australia -- for the fan, for the player, for the whole game," APL chair and Western Sydney Wanderers owner Paul Lederer said. "It's now time to earn and deliver the future our game deserves. The handbrake on the game is off; owners can finally invest in what they own and create value for the entire footballing ecosystem.
"Players can plan their careers in Australian football, fans can reconnect with the game that they love, and clubs can create meaningful moments for the whole Australian football family."
Football Australia chief executive James Johnson made the unbundling a priority when he entered the job last year. The new model for the Professional Leagues will be implemented throughout the course of the 2020-21 A-League and W-League seasons.
The APL Board will comprise of five directors from the clubs, three independent directors, and one person appointed by Football Australia. An independent chair, to be elected by the clubs and ratified by Football Australia, will have a casting vote on the APL Board.
Greg O'Rourke, currently Head of Leagues at Football Australia, will take on a new role as commissioner of the Professional Leagues for APL.