In over thirty years of following the world game I find it hard to remember a week so bizarre as the one that has just transpired. The Gold Coast / Clive Palmer versus FFA saga had another twist in the tale on Wednesday when the FFA announced that Clive Palmer’s Gold Coast United team’s A-League licence revoked – sensationally axing the club for the remainder of the A-League season and beyond.
FFA chairman Frank Lowy revealed at a press conference that he had shown the door to maverick mining magnate Clive Palmer following weeks of public rage and posturing. Clive Palmer communicated via Twitter that his licence was being revoked by “Frank Lowy and FFA cohorts”, going on to say that the decision is “ludicrous”, and “Frank Lowy is an institution who now belongs in an institution”.
The A-League will continue for the remainder of the season without the club, however, players will be given the opportunity to play under new arrangements for the final four games of the season, to avoid disruption of matches.
The FFA have made the move having been in close consultation with lawyers in recent days, claiming Gold Coast United have breached their licensing agreement in a number of areas. Gone now is the second expansion A League franchise in consecutive years following North Queensland’s demise last year, an embarrassing result for Lowy and his FFA team, stunting the stunning progress enjoyed initially post 2006 World Cup qualification.
Following Wednesday’s announcement by the FFA, Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer came out on Thursday and created an independent organisation titled ‘Football Australia’ and hired former A-League chief Archie Fraser as its chief executive.
“Today I have launched Football Australia and we aim to replace incompetent FFA. @ArchieFraser will be the CEO,” the outspoken mining magnate wrote on his Twitter page before confirming the news at a press conference. Palmer revealed his organisation, which will operate under the mantra “we kick harder”, has been registered with the Australian Investment and Securities Commission (ASIC) and was created to “oversee football at a grass roots and senior level and ensure the game is operated with transparency and fairness.” He said Football Australia aimed to replace Football Federation Australia, which he claimed was incompetent at both a domestic and international level.
“The FFA has lurched from one disaster to another and needs to be replaced,” Palmer said.
“They staged a hugely embarrassing World Cup bid which blew $46 million of taxpayers’ money for one vote and they are running an A-League competition which is bleeding money from club owners.
“The fans, players and people with a passion for football in Australia deserve better and Football Australia will be based on full transparency and corporate governance.
“We want to ensure there is fairness in the game for all stakeholders and end the dictatorship that the game has endured under the FFA.”
What is not lost in all this is the poor Gold Coast United players. Through no fault of their own, their careers and incomes are now catapulted into massive insecurity. Whist Palmer has privately told his Gold Coast United players that he will honour their contracts most of them would be completely disenchanted and demoralised with the state of their club. Gold Coast United assistant coach and former South Melbourne star Con Boutsianis is also in the same predicament.
“This has been one of the most historic moments in Australian football history, let’s hope whichever direction it takes, that our kids benefit from a pathway to professional football.
“We are staying professional as a club, the players are focused on the next four matches and that’s the only thing we can control. “The politics should be left to the powers that be.”
One could be forgiven in forgetting the Socceroos had a World Cup Qualifier on Wednesday night against Saudi Arabia and came storming home for a 4-2 victory. Socceroo veteran stars Mark Bresciano and Harry Kewell lit up the match, reminding Holger Osieck that form is temporary but class is permanent.
Congratulations to our Socceroos who have qualified to the next phase in the Asian group and let’s hope the game can recover from the shenanigans and semantics of the Clive Palmer v FFA side show.