Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer
ramped up his war against Football Federation Australia (FFA) on
Thursday by announcing the launch of an organisation aimed at
ending the governing body's "dictatorship" of the local game.
The mining magnate, whose club's A-League license was
stripped by the FFA on Wednesday, said he had registered a body
named "Football Australia" to act as an independent watchdog on
the association's governance.
"Football Australia will look at things like the corporate
governance, the rights of fans, the rights of players, payments
to clubs, payment to FFA, royalties, issues of that nature,"
Palmer said in a rambling media conference in Brisbane.
"We'll look at specific issues such as why was A$46 million
($49.70 million) spent [and] we only got one vote in the World
Cup," he said, referring to Australia's failed bid for the 2022
tournament, which was awarded to Qatar.
"Why do the top five executives in the FFA get paid A$5
million a year while players, some of them get only A$50,000 a
Gold Coast United, bottom of the 10-team league with four
rounds of the regular season remaining, had been involved in a
battle of wills with the FFA after putting the words "freedom of
speech" on their shirts last weekend.
The row was precipitated by Palmer's comments to a newspaper
last month in which said he did not like football, which he
thought a "hopeless" game, and preferred rugby league.
The FFA lost patience with Palmer on Wednesday and stripped
the club of its licence, saying the club had brought the league,
its governing body and the game into disrepute.
Gold Coast United responded by saying the FFA had
over-reacted and that the shirts statement referred to a
separate dispute involving Palmer's group of companies against
club sponsors Hyatt.
It was also aimed at highlighting the plight of refugees,
according to club chief executive Clive Mensink.
The dispute, which pits billionaire tycoon Palmer against
the financial and political clout of FFA chief Frank Lowy,
Australia's richest man, has embarrassed the governing body and
is likely to play out in the courts.
"We believe that [decision] breached natural justice, so
tomorrow in the supreme court of Queensland we'll be seeking an
injunction which foreshadows a legal action which the club will
be taking against the FFA and against its members," Palmer said.
The FFA said in a statement later on Thursday that it was
expecting the action and was ready for it.
"Once again an array of unsubstantiated claims and wild
commentary have been made by Clive Palmer," FFA chief executive
Ben Buckley said, referring to the media conference.
"The comments serve no purpose in any way to advance
football in Australia."
Former A-League boss Archie Fraser, appointed CEO of
"Football Australia", said he wanted the FFA to embrace the
organisation and denied it was set up with the eventual aim of
empowering club owners to launch a breakaway league.
"Clearly when you get senior identities who own the clubs
complaining about a whole range of things, they need a voice and
hopefully I'm a conduit to deliver that," he said.
Fraser added that he had not consulted any other A-League
club owners to canvas their support for the body.
Palmer launched Gold Coast United as an expansion team in
2008 and they finished third and fourth in the regular season in
their first two years, albeit in front of the smallest crowds in
The FFA hopes to persuade the club's players to fulfill
their remaining fixtures and retain 10 teams next season despite
the departure of Gold Coast.
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