The governing body of football in Australia appears unmoved by the demands of referees for better compensation, and expects the offer of a rise in match payments to be accepted
Football Federation Australia are standing their ground in a dispute with A-League match officials, insisting they expect all referees to sign new contracts ahead of the 2013-14 season.
Goal Australia exclusively revealed on Tuesday that referees are refusing to sign new deals with Australian football's governing body over serious concerns about a lack of support and reasonable remuneration.
The officials have engaged the expert legal assistance of former Rugby Union Players' Association president Tony Dempsey to fight their case, and are also set to form a union to defend their interests.
However, it appears the referees will not get their way without a fight, with the FFA making it clear they feel their offer of a 20 percent rise in match payments is sufficient to bring the officials back into line.
"FFA is committed to lifting the professionalism of referees in Australia at all levels and this year has backed this up with a significant 20 percent increase to referee match payments," FFA Director of Referees Ben Wilson said in a statement.
"While work is continuing behind-the-scenes to ensure a high professional standard is met by our referees this must occur pragmatically, with budgets, structures, education and development leading the process along while continuing to follow FIFA statutes."
"FFA is confident that all of the 48 contracts sent out today to our referees panel for the upcoming season will be signed and returned in the coming week."
It remains to be seen if the match officials will be permitted to form a union as they intend.
Responding to enquiries from Goal Australia, an FFA spokesman indicated the organisation believes FIFA statutes require any match officials' union be answerable to - and not independent of - the local governing body.
According to the official document Regulations on the Organisation of Refereeing in FIFA Member Associations: "Refereeing organisation ... must come under the exclusive control of the Member Association, and under no circumstances may it fall under the supervision or control of other bodies, such as the ... unions."
Heading the list of issues behind the impasse between officials and the FFA is a desire to be paid for training commitments and a lack of assistance for football-related medical issues.
The first match of the 2013-14 season is due to take place between Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets on October 11, leaving the FFA with just under two months to find a solution.