Australian soccer is in full-on crisis meltdown after one of football’s loudest mouths, along with his club, got the boot out of the A-League.
Clive Palmer, the super wealthy mining magnet and owner of the Gold Coast United, has seen a 2-year feud with Football Federation Australia (and it’s chairman, Australia’s richest man Frank Lowy) fracture beyond all repair this week, as the powering FFA revoked the GCU’s licence to be a member of the A-League.
So where do we start?
Oversized in all departments, Palmer is a firebrand in football who never fails to vomit out the first thing that comes into his head whether it concerns Australia’s governing body, it’s individuals, other teams, other owners, TV companies and anyone else in between. Which isn’t to say he doesn’t have a point.
Palmer and the FFA’s most recent, final breakdown began torpedoing down the toilet after the billionaire said soccer Down Under is “a hopeless sport,” “rugby league is a better game” and that his club “insignificant.” “What I was saying was taken out of context because I have no confidence with its administration,” Palmer told ABC Radio. “I’m not happy about the fact that the top five executives in the FFA are paid in excess of $5 million, but at the same time we’re going cap in hand to the federal government asking for $8 million [due to insolvency] and it was granted to them to support the league.”
Having furiously flapped his lips, flabby Palmer kept up angry warbling on live Australian TV (SBS) last week. In an interview as raw as sushi, as hot a wasabi, and as refreshing as a sake bomb, Palmer went all-out in a fantastic rant against Australia’s soccer set-up.
Palmer spat the following gems: “I don’t like the thuggery, the back-handed deals and the secret commissions paid to agents… I don’t understand why we didn’t send our best team to the Olyroos… This bias, this malpractice has to stop or we’ll end up like Europe!…, I’ve spent $18m of my money to try and make soccer work! Have any of you spent that much?… We need to stop Fox broadcasting live in the region when games are played… The FFA pay inflated salaries to their management… Why do we pay millions of dollars for overseas coaches?… We shouldn’t be controlled by Dutch or others!” It went on and on and on.
A week after that interview – and with the Gold Coast having replaced their shirt sponsor with the message “Freedom of Speech,” plus a big sub-plot of Gold Coast manager Miron Bleiberg having been axed after Palmer order that 17-year-old debutant Mitch Cooper be handed the captaincy – the FFA on Wednesday announced that GCU were no longer welcome in the A-League.
Palmer’s reaction has been twofold.
With only four matches left of the season, Palmer has announced he’ll go to court to get an injunction against FFA’s ruling.”Tomorrow we shall go to the Queensland supreme court and seek an injunction in relation to the ultra vires action of FFA… Frank Lowy is an institution in Australian sport but, judging by this decision, he might be visiting a different kind of institution. The sport should not be run by dictators like him.”
Palmer’s second recourse, however, has been far more extreme as he has created an rival organisation to the FFA titled Football Australia. “Today I have launched Football Australia and we aim to replace incompetent FFA,” tweeted Palmer. (Watch the press conference here.)
With the Gold Coast’s away match against the Wellington Phoenix still doubtful for this weekend, we wait with interest to see how this all plays out.