A FIFA Tribunal has ordered two of Australia’s best known NPL clubs, South Melbourne FC and Sydney Olympic to each pay hefty amounts of money to former coaches Chris Taylor and Gorka Etxeberria respectively after the tribunal found that both clubs wrongfully dismissed the coaches on the eve of their 2018 NPL seasons.
Both coaches had their contracts terminated with at least a year remaining on their contracts. With the assistance of Football Coaches Australia (ACA), both coaches took their claims to FIFA and just before Christmas, FIFA handed down their rulings, finding in favour of both coaches and ordering each club to pay their former coach about $80,000 in outstanding amounts.
Taylor’s dismissal at the time, took many in the Victorian Football community (including the coach) by surprise, given he is one of the most successful and highly regarded coaches in the NPL, having led South to two minor Premierships, a Grand Final Championship, a Dockerty Cup and an FFA Cup semi-final berth, in his four and a half years at the club. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald late last week, Taylor said he still doesn’t know on what grounds his contract was terminated.
“I achieved every KPI in my contract,” Taylor told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“They never got back to me, to be honest – they rang me and told me in the morning and that was the only contact I’ve had with them for two years. I’d really enjoyed my time at South, I’ve got nothing but praise for the supporters, it’s a fantastic club.
“My gripe is with the people that run the club. They continually let themselves down with some of their actions at board level. When we played Sydney FC, I was 14 months behind in wages.”
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South Melbourne FC quickly responded to the SMH article reporting the FIFA tribunal ruling against the club, issuing the following statement on its website, indicating that it is appealing FIFA’s decision.
“South Melbourne FC acknowledges the article published yesterday by the Sydney Morning Herald in relation to the separation of former coach Chris Taylor from the club. The club has participated in the process with FIFA and related parties. FIFA have made a finding on the case, however despite repeated requests, FIFA has not provided the South Melbourne FC with the basis for this outcome.”
“On the basis of legal advice received, the club has made the decision to appeal the matter. FIFA have confirmed the appeal process has now commenced and whilst the matter is before the courts, the club will not comment further on the matter at this time.”
Sydney Olympic expressed its disappointment with the FIFA ruling in relation to the dismissal of former coach Etxeberria, (who had only been in the job for 10 months) but gave no indication it would appeal the decision.
“We had disputed that the termination was in line with this contract and are disappointed a FIFA tribunal did not rule this way,” a Sydney Olympic spokesperson told the SMH.
“We are currently working through the outcome of the FIFA determination and will make no further comment.”
Whilst South is busy appealing the FIFA ruling on former coach Taylor, it has another spot fire to try and hose down, after a Newscorp story earlier this week, reported that three former South players, have accused the club of ignoring their requests for outstanding payments allegedly owed to the players, believed to be about $12,000 in total.
The three cases date back from late 2018 to the present. The players in question, have sought help from the (Professional Footballers Association) PFA in a bid to resolve the dispute. Whilst the PFA refused to comment on individual cases, a spokesperson confirmed it had been approached by players in relation to overdue payments from NPL clubs.
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Football Victoria CEO Peter Filopoulos confirmed that the governing body had been asked by the PFA to hear the claims. He said, “We’re working through the issues raised with the PFA and the club to understand them fully. It’s a dispute between players and the club and we’ll continue to monitor it.”
South Melbourne FC acknowledges the article published yesterday by the Sydney Morning Herald in relation to the separation of former coach Chris Taylor from the club.