Football Australia's 18th Annual General Meeting marks another year of stronger progress for Australian football

The eighteenth Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Football Australia was held via video conference on Tuesday afternoon (AEDT), in line with the release of Football Australia’s 2021 Annual Review.

At the AGM, Football Australia’s Members voted to re-elect Amy Duggan and Joseph Carrozzi as Directors. The Football Australia Board now comprises nine (9) members of which five (5) are female and four (4) are male – a first of the major sporting bodies in Australia with a gender split of 55% female and 45% male.

The AGM also saw Football Australia’s Members ratify Leigh Russell as a member of Football Australia and Chair of the Women’s Football Council in accordance with the constitution.  

Leigh is an accomplished leader with a reputation built equally on excellence as it is on diversity.  Leigh is an experienced CEO and board director having held leadership roles in boardrooms and across the fields and courts of Australia’s sporting industry, from grassroots to elite.

Leigh’s experiences as the first woman to hold a senior executive position within an AFL Club (working across football & administration), the first woman to become the CEO of Swimming Australia, and previously CEO of Netball Victoria, have shaped her ability to navigate & lead in different situations and environments.

Football Australia’s Members also ratified changing the financial year of Football Australia from a financial year (1 July to 30 June) to a calendar year (1 January to 31 December).  In respect to the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2022, Football Australia’s financial year will be an 18-month financial period and in respect to the financial period commencing 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2023, the financial year will revert to being a 12-month financial period.  

This step is made in the spirit of the ‘One Football’ concept outlined in the XI Principles for the future of Australian football and increases alignment of financial years across the entire game as Football Australia seeks to create greater operating efficiencies.  

Following the AGM, Mr Chris Nikou was installed unanimously by his fellow Directors to the position of Football Australia Chair – a role he has fulfilled since November 2018, and Carla Wilshire was elected as Deputy Chair. 

Mr Nikou said that he was pleased that 2021 was a year of implementation and action. 

“It is with great satisfaction that the Board of Football Australia can report that 2021 has indeed been a landmark year for our sport. We are taking transformative steps for the future, driven by our 15-year vision outlined in our XI Principles for the future of Australian football and by our commitment to a strategic growth agenda,” Mr Nikou said.

“In recent times, we have embarked on crucial and at times, difficult structural changes.  Reforms that will see the continued evolution and growth of our great game. I am proud to say that we have completed making many of those changes.

“Over the last year, I have been pleased with the increased level of collaboration among the game’s stakeholders. Their strong appetite for working hand-in-hand will ensure that the game will continue to evolve and grow in ways not seen before.

“In December 2020, we reached agreement with the newly formed Australian Professional Leagues (APL) to unbundle the A-League Men, A-League Women, A-League Youth and E-League from Football Australia. This milestone was made possible by the unprecedented unity among football’s key stakeholders, with Football Australia, clubs and Members of Football Australia making up the New Leagues Working Group (NLWG), which paved the way for unbundling the Professional Leagues from Football Australia.

“Football Australia can now focus its energies and resources on regulation of the professional game, national teams, and grassroots organisations, and on the overall strategic direction for the sport.

“Football Australia and its nine (9) Member Federations have also spent considerable time during the year discussing our priorities and governance framework at length. In these discussions we are deliberating on the respective roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder group, and on ways to be more aligned, efficient, and effective. The spirit and level of cooperation with which these discussions are being held is pleasing as is the genuine desire to contribute to our common goals. 

“One of the outcomes from this collaboration was the agreement to begin investigating structural transformation for Australian football with the objective of identifying an optimal structure, as well as an implementation plan.  

“James Johnson and his team should be commended on the commercial turnaround of the organisation, headlined by the new naming rights sponsorship for the Commonwealth Bank Matildas.  We welcome Commonwealth Bank to the football family and look forward to a long and mutually prosperous and beneficial relationship.

“We are also delighted with the landmark media rights agreement with 10 ViacomCBS. The agreement will see our sport exposed on free-to-air television like never before as we begin a new and exciting journey with Network 10, including 10, 10 Play, 10 Bold, and streaming service Paramount+.  

“Pleasingly, with all the work undertaken in developing a new 15-year vision for the sport and our clear strategic growth agenda, and in re-creating and re-imagining our value proposition commercially, we entered FY 2021/22 with a budgeted revenue double what we achieved in FY 2020/21. In a COVID-19 affected world, this is a remarkable turnaround,” he said.

In the second year of his tenure, Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Johnson, said that Football Australia has used initiatives such as the XI Principles for the future of Australian football, to drive its strategic agenda throughout the year. 

“Despite the challenges of the year, 2021 has been a year of action and implementation for Football Australia. We have taken huge strides this year as we brought to life many elements of our bold vision for the sport,” Johnson said. 

“We saw Australian football lead in the reopening of Australia’s international borders as we welcomed the Socceroos and Commonwealth Bank Matildas back to our shores in the October and November international match windows. 

“We launched the 2021/22 Domestic Match Calendar which ensures the alignment of our football competitions both domestically and to the International Match Calendar.

“We successfully implemented the unbundling of the professional leagues from Football Australia to bring the structure of the professional game into alignment with global best practice and create opportunities for further investment.  These are but a few examples of how we are taking Australian football into the next chapter of its journey of transformation.

“Australian football is in a vastly different position today than what it was 18 months ago, with noticeable and significant change taking place across the game this year.  

“2022 will provide the opportunity to focus our agenda strategic agenda on key initiatives, such as digital transformation and the establishment of more exciting football products, which we believe will enhance our connection to our broad and diverse football community. 

“We have set the foundations for positive transformation of Australian football in 2021 and we are optimistic and excited about the future of the game,” he said.

Football Australia’s 2021 Annual Review, which includes financial and strategic updates, as well as reviews of performances and events from Australia’s national teams and competitions throughout FY2021, can be accessed here.