Legend Johnston willing to help FIFA rebuild Australian football amid governance crisis

Australian football icon Craig Johnston is prepared to offer his services to FIFA to help recalibrate the governance of the game in his homeland.

Craig Johnston

Craig Johnston during Liverpool's trip to Sydney in May Source: Getty Images

The Liverpool legend has been following the bitter feud between football's stakeholders from afar, and should the world governing body sack the FFA board at the end of November, Johnston declared it's his "passion in life to contribute for the good of the game".

Johnston, 57 - who won five league titles during a glittering era at Anfield - confirmed there may be behind-the-scenes moves aimed at piloting him into a position of influence, should the FFA hierarchy tumble.

While a permanent role as an administrator on a new board is not necessarily his ambition, Johnston can foresee a possible troubleshooting position.

"All I've ever wanted to do was to contribute my hard-earned experience," Johnston said.

"I want to give back to the game that has given me so much and a country which means so much to me.

"I haven't been able to do that to this point ... so let's see where we go."

FIFA will disband the FFA board if it remains unsatisfied that its demand for greater inclusivity in an expanded Congress is not forthcoming.

FFA chairman Steven Lowy has called an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) for November 1 in a last ditch attempt to ratify Whitman Square's democratisation model in collaboration with the state federations.

But the A-League clubs and PFA vehemently oppose what they see as as a blatant attempt to maintain the status quo, and the clubs have threatened an injunction to shut down the proposed EGM.

FIFA will impose a normalisation committee if consensus can't be reached.

Johnston has been "disheartened" by a previous "complete lack of interest" from the powers that be in his desire to give back.

"I am a football guy through and through and I just want to be of use, however that manifests itself," he said.

Splitting his time between the US, the UK and Australia, Johnston believes it could be a case of now or never.

"You know what, we are all dying off," Johnston said.

"There are not many of us left now, so get in while you can."

An ambassador for Liverpool in their most recent foray to Australia last May, Johnston combines photography and spreading his SUPAskills training method for youngsters these days.

He has heavy-hitting connections.

His partner Vivienne is the daughter of Tottenham Hotspur's billionaire Bahamas-based owner Joe Lewis, officially Britain's fourth richest man.

While Johnston is being touted as a potential powerbroker in a post Steven Lowy-era, there have also been suggestions that gaming guru and former Sydney FC chairman Walter Bugno is coveting a possible role on a new board, along with a possible return of ex-Soccer Australia chairman Remo Nogarotto.

However Nogarotto, the former director of the NSW Liberal Party and one-time Newcastle Jets chairman, dismissed the notion of an administrative comeback.

Nogarotto, who heads up political strategist group Crosby Textor and advises on the European operations of Macquarie Bank, said: "I have not been asked to consider sitting on a normalisation committee, a flat earth committee or any other committee for that matter.

"But I have obviously watched the current impasse from afar and with much sadness.

"I'm not across all the detail of the debate but it strikes me that a more pluralist model of governance is not an unreasonable notion to aspire to and is consistent with FIFA statutes. 

"Like all these things however, they need to be built on foundations of goodwill and trust and if those two things are absent it makes the task of sensible dialogue extremely difficult. 

"The game has made tremendous strides over the past decade but there remain fissures that need to be fixed if the game is to realise its complete potential. And if a more representative governance model assists in bringing the game together then this needs to be given serious consideration.

Nogarotto, who stepped down from the previous administration to allow Frank Lowy a seamless transition 13 years ago, added: "There is always time of course for the parties to come to a consensus and I am confident this will happen and the embarrassing prospect of a FIFA normalisation committee will be averted."

Football NSW boss Anter Isaac, a former FFA CFO and FIFA committee member, has also been mentioned as a possible future chairman, should he resign from his current positions.

An accountant by trade, Isaac is also on the board of NRL club Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

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5 min read
Published 24 October 2017 at 12:41pm
By Dave Lewis