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A-League launches season but may start without new CBA

FFA boss David Gallop has expressed frustration that the upcoming A-League season could be launched without a new collective bargaining agreement being ratified by the players' union.

The competition's 11th season will kick off on Thursday night with Professional Footballers Australia still to sign off on a new CBA.

Gallop said the two parties had agreed to terms for a four-year, whole-of-game deal that would take in the Socceroos, Matildas and A-League, but is disappointed the protracted discussions have taken away from the league's build-up.

"I am frustrated at the time that it's taken," Gallop said at the season launch in Sydney.
"Indications from the PFA leadership are that the deal is agreed but needs to be ratified. We wanted that to happen last week.

"I certainly call on it to happen this week, so that we can settle in for the season."
Gallop denied he feared the lengthy negotiations would prevent the season kicking off.
"The fans would expect that the games would go ahead in any circumstances and the PFA recognise that as well," he said.

The former NRL boss also rejected the suggestion off-field issues have made for a low-key A-League build-up lacking excitement and momentum, saying he was confident this season would provide SBS and Fox Sports with the encouragement they needed to sign another broadcast agreement at the end of the 2016/17 season.

But he stressed the importance of a successful season in an Australian sporting market that is more competitive than ever, and acknowledged that means ensuring all clubs are financially viable.
Come this time next week you'll be saying 'wow, the A-League season 11 started with a bang'.
David Gallop

While reigning champions Melbourne Victory, cashed-up Melbourne City and Sydney FC are in great shape, instability still threatens lower-end teams.

"The financial potholes continue to be a challenge for this competition in its 11th season," Gallop said, citing Brisbane Roar and the FFA-owned Newcastle Jets' recent troubles.
"It's a start-up competition, it's achieved an enormous amount.

"But there's a great debt owed to the club owners who continue in most circumstances to put their hand in their pocket at the end of every season to meet the hole, and we're indebted to them for that."

Gallop's comments came as the A-League launched with a virtual spin, including holograms of players and a live-streamed video chat with all 10 captains from around Australia and New Zealand.
A new-look Wanderers will kick off the competition on Thursday night when they host the Roar at Parramatta Stadium, in what will be a big test for new Brisbane coach John Aloisi.
Adelaide United will host the first blockbuster at Adelaide Oval when they attempt to see off Victory, while Sydney FC will take on Melbourne City at home at the Sydney Football Stadium.

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