Abbott’s cuts dice women’s football

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There are plenty of reasons to dislike the government. Perhaps you’re a fan of a free doctor. Maybe foreign aid is your thing. There are rumours that a small but vocal crowd are protesting changes to the university fees – but that’s just a rumour.

“Wait? What? This is The Football Sack. Why am I reading about politics?” I hear you ask.

The Smiling Assassin of your Westfield W-League.

Good question. The answer is the Westfield W-League. The well-publicised slash’n’burn approach to running a country that some idiots voted for has ripped the W-League off of your TV set and tossed it amongst the debris of the once great network; the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

When Tony Abbott and his bunch of cronies from the big end of town came marching into government under the banner of “no cuts to SBS or the ABC”, Stephanie Brantz, the host of the ABC’s W-League coverage, probably thought her job was safe.

The eight clubs that make up the competition probably thought that their sponsorship would continue to grow, ‘cause y’know, everything grows in Abbott’s garden.

Wrong, wrong, bloody wrong. In a statement on Monday, ABC Managing Director Mark Scott said:

“With the ABC facing declining audience interest in local sport competitions and some codes chasing commercial opportunities, ABC Television is revising its sports strategy to ensure the most cost-efficient use of resources and optimal audience impact.”

Is it a coincidence that this came as the network’s budget was handed down? No, it’s not. What it means, though, it that the sponsorship pickings that the clubs would get will now lessen, because sponsors like to see their names being flashed around on pixels. Fewer pixels mean fewer dollars.

It also means that female footballers have a much more limited access to their role-models. This can only serve to hurt the game, and it comes at a time when women’s football had really gathered some momentum on this continent.

After Scott had revealed the decision, the FFA offered a stern reply, saying:

“FFA today received final confirmation of ABC TV’s decision to cease broadcast of the W-League for the 2015/16 season as part of widespread budget cuts that affect sporting codes and competitions all over Australia.

“The FFA is disappointed with the decision to cut the broadcast of Australia’s premier women’s national sporting competition.”

Nice one, FFA, but the real task is getting the game back on television, or at the very least, somewhere online. The fans want it, the clubs need it, and every prospective female footballer deserves it, not to mention the myriad of local and international stars that choose to practise their art in our league.

Next year, the league won’t be the same. The following year, hopefully, the Government won’t.

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