Treble trouble for FFA as stakeholders join forces

A triple-pronged alliance between the A-League clubs, the PFA and the newly-formed Association of Australian Football Clubs is piling extra pressure on FFA to widen its congress, as FIFA comes to town to shake up the governance of the game.

Football Federation Australia

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

Talks aimed at formalising an agreement between the three parties over the shared goals of a second tier have been ongoing, and they are also working on a consensus to fuel the NPL clubs' bid for voting rights to elect future FFA boards.

A series of summits between all the game's stakeholders and a three-person FIFA delegation start in Sydney tomorrow, with beleaguered FFA under the gun to democratise its structures or face the imminent prospect of being disbanded and replaced by an interim 'normalising committee'.

The reformists are doing all in their power to construct a pincer movement, in concert with FIFA, which will allow the FFA no wriggle room in an ongoing power struggle which has reached its zenith.

Speaking ahead of a scheduled meeting with FIFA officials on Thursday, AAFC chairman Rabieh Krayem confirmed that discussions with the A-League clubs and the PFA had already taken place over a likely accord.

"We've already brief talks with the A-League clubs and the PFA, and there will be ongoing dialogue this week during the FIFA, AFC meetings," he said.

"The prospect of a second tier are part of those discussions.

"Whenever you get people who agree on a process it's good for football.

"We all agree that a second tier under the A-League is inevitable [with promotion/relegation the next step], it's just a matter of when and how.

"We are all unified on that process and the most important thing is we are communicating."

The clubs are demanding at least five seats on a reformed congress, with the PFA and AAFC one apiece.

While the clubs are also in the midst of a legal battle aimed at forcing FFA to open their financial books for scrutiny, Krayem is reluctant to add fuel to the simmering war between the bitterest of foes.

"We are focused more on the solutions for football, rather than creating more problems," he said.

"A second tier is an important part of football going forward, so is the long term financial viability of the NPL clubs."

On the broader issue of whether the FFA board could be effectively sacked as early as this week, let alone the November deadline for reform set by FIFA, Krayem is not pre-empting anything.

"We all want to see a resolution [to the governance crisis gripping the game] and you have to go in with an open mind," he said.

"For us, we'll be putting our position forward but it's all about what's in the best interests of football.

"This is a critical week for the game in relation to having all stakeholders involved and bringing them all together, with a third party [FIFA] there to help us come to a resolution.

"The only way to resolve this is for everybody to have a place at the table.

"We all have a significant part to play in the growth of the game.

"Therefore we should all be represented [in a newly forged congress]."

A second tier would, according to Krayem, offer a golden chance for untapped talent.

"There's a reason why we are the number one participation sport in the country, but at the same time those kids that play the game need a pathway," he said.

"The one that exists now is too narrow.

"We are all about giving kids opportunities to play at the highest level."

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4 min read
Published 8 August 2017 at 3:54pm
By Dave Lewis