A-League's May 31 contract deadline a roadblock for season resumption
The host broadcaster's commitment to the league is in doubt but A-League players remain hopeful they can finish the 2019-20 season on the pitch -- if their complex contract situation can be sorted out.
Football Federation Australia is set to provide an update on the competition's future amid the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday after postponing the remainder of the season indefinitely on March 24.
It's unknown if a resumption date will be set in Wednesday's update but the pressure to finalise just what will happen is growing due to multiple factors.
At least six of the 11 clubs have stood down players since the league's suspension while it's been widely reported a quarterly payment of $900,000 to each club from broadcaster Fox Sports has not been made.
Adding to the complexity of the situation is almost half of the A-League's contracted players' deals expire on May 31.
Professional Footballers Australia chief executive John Didulica says if a decision is made to play out the season, it will have to take in to account just what to do with players who will effectively be free agents.
"You'll have a number of players who will be available but obviously with contracts all finishing May 31 there will be a lot of players who won't," Didulica told AAP.
"What the sport needs to manage is balancing these contractual situations they have in place but also the sporting integrity of the competition as well.
"In order to conclude the season, do you want the same cohort of players to be involved? And if so, what are the terms of that? Or do you allow the season to be concluded by -- not a new group of players -- but a very different group of players.
"You'd effectively institute a second or third transfer window into the season."
Didulica also believes it is time for Fox to either commit to the competition going forward or for the FFA to find a new broadcaster in order for finances to be stabilised during the suspension of competition.
"What Fox chooses to do, how FFA manages that, that's something they'll need to resolve," he said.
"We'd always like to think that Fox's investment in the game over 15 years will mean they won't look to abandon the game at the moment so I'm not forming a view one way or the other which way it will go.
"Certainly the hope would be that a commercial relationship would continue that would allow us to complete the season at some point in the future and means that we can have some stability to the game's revenues.
"If it can't, if it goes the other way, then we just need to find a new partner to work with to broadcast the game."
Unlike the NRL and AFL seasons, which had just begun their campaigns, the A-League has just a handful of rounds to play before finals.
Didulica said whatever format is adopted to complete the season, the ongoing uncertainty over the competition's future is taking its toll on players.