Steven Lowy’s bid to deliver a new Congress structure that is vehemently opposed by A-League clubs and the players union, the PFA, has been dealt a body blow by Victorian soccer officials.
Local soccer chiefs have refused to bend under pressure from the embattled FFA chairman and will not support Lowy’s proposals at an emergency general meeting of the existing Congress, due to be held on Wednesday.
Lowy was understood to be planning to fly to Melbourne on Monday to lobby his case with Victorian officials, but hours before the scheduled meeting, FFV chairman Kimon Taliadoros sent Lowy a letter making it clear he would not be persuaded to side with FFA and seven other state federations.
In the letter obtained by AAP, he indicated the congress changes on the table fall “significantly short of satisfying” the wishes of stakeholders and FIFA’s mandate for more democratic governance.
Taliadoros subsequently urged Lowy to withdraw FFA’s notice for the EGM, notify FIFA and “immediately return to negotiations with the stakeholders” as time ticks down to the November 30 deadline.
One key Lowy antagonist, Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin, had earlier described the decision to hold an emergency general meeting of the existing Congress – which elects the FFA board and determines how the game is run in this country – as “a final cynical act” that, he argues, will destroy the board’s credibility and mandate.
Lowy is understood to have the support of most of soccer’s state federation bosses save for NSW, which has sided with the A-League clubs, and now Victoria, which had looked to be the “swing seat” among the state representatives.
The FFA chairman needs at least eight of the 10 votes at Wednesday’s EGM in order to carry his proposals for the new Congress, which would then be made up of nine state votes, four for the clubs, one for Professional Footballers Australia and one for the women’s game.
The clubs and PFA want a 9-5-1-1 model featuring one extra vote for the clubs, a small but crucial difference that would ensure the nine states no longer have majority power to elect FFA’s board.
All this manoeuvring is going on with the shadow of FIFA intervention hanging over the local game.
The sport’s governing body has the power to take over the running of the game here if it believes changes to the Congress are not broad enough to reflect all interests in the game.
The legal and procedural dispute has been brewing for months and is coming to a head.
The A-League clubs have decided to shelve plans to sue the FFA, although they have warned Lowy repeatedly there could be severe consequences if they and the players do not get more say in the decision-making process.
Days before FFA called the EGM earlier this month, incensed clubs wrote to Lowy threatening to seek an injunction to have the meeting – described by Griffin as an “abuse of power” – ruled illegal.
But in another charged letter to Lowy on Saturday, Griffin indicated the clubs would leave the legalities in the hands of FIFA.
“Noting that the FFA is one of only a handful of FIFA member associations structured as a corporation, part of our considerations is the apparent current focus of the FFA board on the Australian Corporations Act over the obligations of the FFA as an association member of FIFA,” the letter read.
“Those obligations to FIFA are clearly manifested in the consistent instructions the FFA board has received from FIFA with regard to governance reform over the last year, and indeed in the seven years prior to that.
“We do not wish to act in any way that might undermine FIFA’s authority in this matter and therefore will not take legal action at this juncture.”
A “commensurate” response would follow should the FFA push through its preferred model, the A-League clubs have said.
Both the clubs and PFA have accused FFA of attempting to remain as the game’s “dominant” or “pre-eminent” stakeholder.
Even if pushed through, the ultimate decision lies with FIFA, which has made it clear reforms must be agreed to by all stakeholders – identified by the world governing body as the states, clubs and PFA.
A resolution must be struck by November 30 or FIFA will remove Lowy and his board and install a normalisation committee to run Australian soccer.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.