State chief vows football's civil war will be solved

A leading state federation president insists football's great tribal war will be resolved without FIFA being compelled to dissolve the FFA board and take governorship of the Australian game.

Football Federation Australia

FFA CEO David Gallop (right) and FFA Chairman Steven Lowy Source: Getty Images

The nine state federation presidents are under the spotlight after twice back-flipping in 48 hours this week over an accord with the A-League clubs and the PFA over the composition of a new congress.

Dubbed the "faceless men", the state chiefs have been accused of welching on an agreement which would effectively have neutered the power base of FFA chairman Steven Lowy by imposing a congress comprising nine votes for the federations, five for the A-League clubs and one for the PFA.

The congress has the power to elect who is on the FFA board.

But to the dismay of the clubs, the federations, in two heated and acrimonious meetings with Lowy, capitulated, leaving FIFA without a resolution from the two-day summit over the future of how the game is structured in Australia.

Unless a potent anti-venom can be administered to remove the toxicity from the relationship that festers between the clubs and the FFA by the November deadline, FIFA will sack the board and impose a normalising committee.

However the state boss, who preferred not to be identified, declared: "We have the capacity to affect change but we just need to think about how we move forward.

"It will take time, but it will get resolved. I have confidence that will happen."

But with hostilities between Lowy and the clubs making the tensions between North Korea and the United States look like a mild disagreement, the state chief admitted: "It will be about how you build that relationship again and get that trust back.

"I don't know whether that's going to happen with the current players who are there. That's the dilemma."

Though the clubs are adamant that an agreement with the state federations had been forged, the state president said it wasn't quite that cut and dried.

"There wasn't a deal ... there was a structure that the clubs had put up and we weren't that far away," he said.

"That got taken off the table, and then we came to (agreement) on another structure."

That was the cue for Lowy to unleash the full force of his personality to the nine federation chiefs, tearing into them with a ferocity which left them in no doubt where their loyalties should lie.

"There was a lot distress at those meetings ... I am not used to seeing people talked to like that," the federation boss said.

"It has been the most difficult 48 hours I've had (in the role)

"We might be seen as flip-flopping by the A-League clubs, but we have some good people and I am sure we can solve this impasse.

"I thought we had a deal. Where Steven Lowy wants to end up ... there is not much between it.

"The game has to move forward, the A-League generates a lot of money which the FFA uses to fund the national teams and their own administration.

"There clearly needs to be a more equitable split.

"The A-League has stalled and is under-capitalized.

"There has to be some way of getting capital back into the competition without completely blowing up the FFA.

"When there is a breakdown of trust and not a huge amount of transparency on the financials, people tend to think the worst."

But he reiterated that all is not lost in what has become an embarrassing and costly soap opera.

"There's a lot of work to do but they're enough good people around the federations and the FFA to get it fixed," he stated.

"We are not far away from a solution to prevent the need for a potential normalisation committee."

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4 min read
Published 11 August 2017 at 10:46pm
By Dave Lewis