March 27, 2020 / 12:36 AM / 6 days ago

Australian federation lays off 70% of staff due to coronavirus

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia’s soccer federation has laid off 70% of its staff as it battles to remain solvent during a national shutdown to contain the coronavirus.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but necessary to stabilise the organisation so that it can continue to service the game, albeit in a vastly different landscape,” Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive James Johnson said in a statement on Friday.

“Industries all over the world have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and football in Australia is no different.”

The FFA suspended Australia’s top-flight A-League on Tuesday after travel curbs and social distancing measures made the competition untenable.

International matches for Australia’s national teams have also been suspended indefinitely, along with all grass-roots and community soccer.

“These developments impact many forms of revenue for FFA, including national registration fees, broadcast fees, sponsorship, ticket sales and government funding, so we have needed to adjust our operations to ensure that we can remain operational,” Johnson added.

The number of coronavirus cases in Australia is nearing 3,000 from less than 100 at the start of March, raising fears about a wider spread in the community. Thirteen people have died from the virus.

The A-League was the last of Australia’s major sports competitions to shut down, with the Australian Football League, National Rugby League and Super Rugby having already been suspended.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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