The Australian Professional Leagues (APL), Australian league soccer’s governing body, is cutting as much as 50% of its staff as part of cost-cutting measures.
The body, which organizes Australia and New Zealand’s men’s and women’s A-League soccer competitions and employs around 80 staff, is also shuttering its digital content service, KeepUp, which housed A-League content such as highlights and analysis, as well as coverage of overseas Australian players.
KeepUp was only set up in 2021 with a reported cost of AU$30 million ($19.7 million), however spiraling costs at the APL combined with a new content strategy that is seeing more video coverage and analysis moved to the in-house A-Leagues website means that KeepUp will be discontinued.
A-League commissioner Nick Garcia said that the staff cuts have come after a total strategic review of the A-Leagues, following the end of the APL’s initial three-year strategy.
Garcia added that the cutbacks in personnel come from a need to “create efficiencies."
The news comes on the back of the abysmal performance of the A-Leagues’ inaugural Unite Round, a three-day round of fixtures from both the men’s and women’s leagues played back-to-back across three stadiums in Sydney.
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The fixture round drew a combined 47,425 fans, an average of 3,952 per game, not only below the league’s average attendance, but well below the capacities of each of the stadia.
TV money – or indeed, the lack of – has also been a source of frustration on the APL’s part in recent years, with TV viewership ratings falling below the target needed for the APL to receive the entirety of its funding from domestic broadcast partners Network 10 and Paramount.
Some of the league’s teams have required financial assistance which has come directly from the APL, and may have been eased by the full complement of TV money.
With the A-League expanding from the 2024-25 season onwards, costs will likely continue to rise for the APL unless the new Auckland market (a team in that city was confirmed in November last year) can turn viewership around and spark a change in fortunes.