After an eventful week, things look increasingly like they are coming to a head at the top of the football tree in Australia, with all eyes fixed on those in high places.
Not only does uncertainty surround Socceroos’ coach Ange Postecoglou’s future after the Honduras qualifiers, but there is also uncertainty as to the futures of FFA Chairman Steven Lowy and FFA CEO David Gallop.
The uncertainty increased another notch early this week following the 11th hour postponement of last Wednesday’s scheduled EGM by the FFA. The FFA was hoping to push through its preferred expanded model of the FFA Congress,(the so-called 9-4-1-1 model), but abandoned this bid when FFV President Kimon Taliadoros wrote to Mr Lowy informing him that the FFV would not be supporting the FFA’s preferred model. The FFV, Taliodoros informed Mr Lowy, was supportive of the 9-5-1-1 model preferred by the A-League club bosses. And so the impasse between the FFA and the A-League clubs over the expanded FFA Congress persists. With the threat of FIFA intervention looming at the end of the month, the FFA has rescheduled another EGM for 27 November, three days before the FIFA deadline. If the congress issue is not resolved by then, FIFA is threatening to install its own normalising committee to take over from the FFA.
It’s unsure how this will play out in the coming days and whether or not the FFA will attempt to persuade the FFV to reconsider its position prior to the next meeting. The impasse between the FFA and A-League clubs over the FFA Congress coincides with the Socceroos’ crucial World Cup qualifying playoffs. At the very least, it’s an unwanted distraction for the Socceroos, but there is a possibility it may have also affected coach Postecgoglou’s decision not to commit himself to the Socceroos’ coaching position beyond the matches against Honduras due to an uncertainty at FFA Board level.
There’s no doubt there’s a lot at stake. For example, the composition of the Congress will go a long way in determining what the new model for the A-League looks like and how much control A-League clubs have over the league and its revenue streams.
The FFA appears to be at odds with a number of different stakeholders at present, not just the A-League clubs. Last Friday week, the Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) released its blueprint for a national second tier competition (The Championship). The FFA’s initial response appeared to pour cold water on the AAFC proposal. However the FFA followed up with another statement some days later which appeared more conciliatory and open to dialogue with the AAFC.
Gallop said on Monday, “We responded to their media release on Friday, and they have now written to us. We have responded to that by telling them we are happy to meet, and we would be happy to do so within the next month or as soon as is convenient for all parties.”
This prompted AAFC chairman Rabieh Krayem to comment, “I think the (initial) response from the FFA was very disappointing but it wasn’t unpredictable. What has been lacking is, there is no engagement with us (a major stakeholder, representing community football). There is no doubt the FFA needs to endorse and approve it (a second tier competition). They are the governing body of the game. And there is no way that any organisation would try and make a competition that is a breakaway. That is just terrible for the game. That was disappointing on Friday. I wrote to David Gallop over the weekend and I did receive a letter yesterday (Monday) from David opening the dialogue. I take that as a positive that we will now have a dialogue and set up [a] meeting to discuss this.
“The AAFC is part of the landscape of football. We are a major stakeholder. At the moment you’ve got three stakeholders defined for the congress. The PFA, the A-League clubs and member federations.
“There is no doubt the AAFC representing the 30,000 players, 128 clubs and over 5,000 volunteers who contribute $50 million, that we can’t be ignored,” commented Krayem.