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Top football referees strike just weeks out from start of new season

Australia’s top football referees have gone on strike less than six weeks away from the start of the new A-League season.

The strike will have an immediate affect on FFA Cup matches and A-League trials, with the Professional Football Referees Association telling Football Australia that its members won’t be available to officiate those games,

“The PFRA does not take this decision lightly and comes on the back of more than three months of discussions and efforts to resolve several topics,” a PFRA statement said.

The matters include the A-League leadership and coaching department not having their contracts renewed when the league separated from FA in July.

It has meant PFRA match officials have had no direction, coaching, instruction, and fitness coaching for the past three months.

Alex King (second from right) and other professional referees have gone on strike. Picture: AAP Image/George Salpigtidis
Alex King (second from right) and other professional referees have gone on strike. Picture: AAP Image/George Salpigtidis
“We are now just weeks out from the start of the season, and the referees find themselves in a position without any form of coaching and/or preparation,” the statement said.

The PFRA is also unhappy that “members were unfairly removed from their position without any due process or warning” when the A-League referees’ panel was announced.

“There was no performance management or even an indication that any members may have been in danger of losing their position,” the statement said.

“Yet the FA referees committee saw fit to remove these members of their own accord without following any apparent process.”

PFRA referees also remain without contracts for the new season despite “constant efforts” to have the situation rectified.

PFRA resident Paul Cetrangolo said his organisation was committed to solving the problems.

“But (PFRA referees) will not officiate further matches while these items remain outstanding,” Cetrangolo said.

“The PFRA A-League referees sacrifice an enormous amount for football in the country and it seems staggering that we find ourselves in a position without basic items such as leadership, coaching staff, fair processes for changes to panels, and a standard contract.”

Australian Professional League, which rum the men’s and women’s A-League competitions, want a solution found.

“We’re paying them to referee our matches,” APL managing director Danny Townsend said.

“This is an FA matter but we will help if needed to have this resolved.”

On Tuesday night, FA issued a statement, saying that FFA Cup and A-League trial matches would go ahead and that referees “have and will be appointed” for the games.

“Football Australia recently confirmed a new structure for referees and today advertised for several new positions, including a head of refereeing to lead the new department,” the FA statement said.

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