Angry club chiefs urge FIFA to take action over FFA's delay

Incensed A-League club chiefs are urging FIFA to hang tough and compel Football Federation Australia (FFA) to fulfill its pledge to overhaul its governance structures after it shelved March's deadline for change.

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FFA Chairman Steven Lowy and FFA CEO David Gallop Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

FFA had until Friday to agree to a more inclusive model for an overhauled and expanded congress with key stakeholders, but fell short of that commitment, instead pushing back the deadline until November.

In what clubs interpret as a delaying tactic to maintain a grip on key strategic voting powers by FFA chairman Steven Lowy and CEO David Gallop, the 10 club owners have reacted by seeking to clarify the position of the world governing body, who along with the AFC, has been pushing FFA to expand its membership base in line with other football associations.

"The clubs will now expect FIFA to take some decisive action, whether behind the scenes, or publicly to make sure that FFA delivers on what it had agreed to do," said a highly placed club source.

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"It's clearly unsatisfactory to have missed the March 31 deadline for the unveiling of a new model which, in part, would have given clubs a greater say in the game which they have bankrolled to the tune of hundreds of millions over the past 11 years.

"It's now a matter of how FIFA reacts and their input has already been sought to provide some clarity moving forward."

Responding to an enquiry from The World Game on its stance on FFA pushing back the deadline, a FIFA spokesperson said the world governing body was willing to afford an extension to for FFA to deliver the promised reforms to its structure. 

The FIFA spokesman said in a statement: "Following discussions with FFA, also involving the AFC (Asian Football Confederation), it has been agreed that a request has been submitted to the next FIFA Members Associations Committee meeting to approve an extension to the current deadline to enable the FFA to reach a consensus and elect an expanded Congress at the next FFA AGM (Annual General Meeting) on November."

An FFA statement on the delay indicated it was simply acceding the the requests of stakeholders in shelving change, but the clubs - represented by the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association - believe that position to be misleading.

FFA's proposed new governance model would see the congress expanded from 10 votes to 13, encompassing nine votes from the state federations, three from the A-League clubs - who currently have one vote - and one from the Professional Footballers Association.

But the FFA's preferred model has failed to garner the required 75 percent support required for ratification and falls well short of the structure sought by the clubs and the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), who are seeking five votes and two votes respectively on a 16-strong congress.

Behind the scenes, FIFA has also encouraged FFA to begin dialogue with the newly formed Association of Australian Football Clubs, the group of 104 NPL teams who are seeking a vote in the congress and a promotion/relegation model in the years ahead.

FFA chairman Lowy insisted the commitment to change remained unwavering.

"FFA wants to see an expanded Congress for Australia that reflects the way the way the game is evolving in this country but also safeguards the significant progress made through the reforms of 12 years ago," he said. 

AAFC chairman and former South Melbourne director Tom Kalas, who is articulating the NPL club's quest for a place at the top table, expressed his "disappointment" in FFA's failure to deliver what he sees as a more representative format for football's myriad stakeholders.

Kalas, whose body have been in constant dialogue with FIFA over their aspirations for a clear and defined A-League pathway, said: "It's unfortunate that FFA hasn't expanded the Congress yet to incorporate ourselves.

"We were hoping there would be some resolutions and agreements among the current stakeholders so we can progress football forward.

"There's a mountain of work to be done and delaying it is not a good thing. We all need to get cracking."


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Published 1 April 2017 at 9:50am
By Dave Lewis