Football Federation Australia appoints Johnson as next chief
Football Federation Australia, the national soccer body, has appointed James Johnson, presently an executive at City Football Group, the group of clubs headed up by England's Manchester City, as its new chief executive.
Johnson will take up the post in January, replacing the long-serving David Gallop, who announced in July, in the wake of a significant restructuring in Australian soccer, that he would leave FFA on 31 December.
Johnson's is currently the senior vice-president of external affairs at City Football Group, which owns or has a stake in eight clubs worldwide, including Melbourne City, of Australia's A-League.
He previously held positions at the Asian Football Confederation, Australia’s professional soccer players union, and as senior manager for member associations at Fifa.
Chris Nikou, FFA chairman, said: “Having run a domestic and international executive search, and in a strong field of candidates, we have no doubt James is the right person for the role.”
Johnson added: “Australian football is my first football community… I see my appointment as a responsibility to the game.”
One of Johnson’s primary initial tasks will be to manage the new relationship between the A-League and the FFA. The A-League is no longer under direct FFA control, after an agreement was reached between the two bodies for a separation ahead of the 2019-20 season.
The women's W-League and the Y-League, the national youth league, have also split from FFA under a series of recommendations endorsed by the New Leagues Working Group (NLWG), a body mandated by Fifa.
The leagues are now being run by an independent chairman, along with representatives of each of the 12 club licence-holders, with two additional representatives from FFA, who are responsible for the commercialisation and growth of the leagues’ intellectual property and commercial rights
A national men's second division is set to be introduced for the 2021-22 season, raising the prospect of promotion and relegation in Australian professional soccer for the first time.
Gallop, who was involved with Australia’s bid to host the Fifa 2023 Women’s World Cup (now potentially a joint bid with New Zealand), and with securing the new A-League broadcast rights deal with pay-TV operator Fox Sports, said that his resignation was linked to these changes.