CLIVE Palmer (pictured) has called on the Federal Government to investigate the administration of Football Federation Australia (FFA) following the decision to terminate Gold Coast United’s A-League licence.
Palmer says the announcement by FFA chief Frank Lowy was ‘outrageous’ and he foreshadowed a legal challenge to the decision because Gold Coast United had not been accorded a fair hearing.
He says there is no intention of deserting players and supporters.
“Gold Coast United has been denied natural justice and we are prepared to go to the highest court in the country to challenge this ludicrous decision,” he says.
Palmer says the FFA had based much of its reasons to revoke the licence around its opposition to Gold Coast United last weekend using ‘Freedom of Speech’ signage at its home ground Skilled Park and on its jerseys.
“The message has been used in place of Hyatt branding as we are in a legal dispute with that company and I can’t see anything wrong with such a simple but meaningful statement such as the right to freedom of speech,” he says.
Palmer says he held Lowy in the highest regard but the FFA chief had led an ‘incompetent and overpaid’ administration, which had also blown $46 million of taxpayers’ money with a failed bid to host the World Cup that attracted just one vote.
“Frank Lowy is an institution in Australian sport but judging by this decision he might be visiting a different kind of institution,” he says.
“He has brought the game into disrepute. The sport should not be run by dictators like him.”
Palmer believes the recent Federal Government review of football by Australian Sports Commission chief Warwick Smith failed to point out the biggest problem facing the code – its administration.
Football Federation Australia said it had issued Gold Coast United FC Pty Ltd with a notice of termination following material breaches of the Club Participation Agreement that governs the conduct of all clubs in the A-League.
A FFA statement said: "The termination has been made following at least three clear breaches of the Agreement in recent days, namely:
1. A conscious and deliberate contravention of FFA Policies and Procedures.
2. Deliberate defiance of a direction that was given by FFA; and
3. Repeated public statements made by or on behalf of Gold Coast United that bring the A-League, FFA and the game of football into disrepute and are prejudicial to the interests of FFA, the A-League and the game of football in Australia.''
FFA chairman and FFA CEO Ben Buckley made the announcement to reporters shortly after 1pm.
Palmer struck back saying the FFA is heavily subsidised by government ‘yet its executives are some of the highest paid people in Australian sport’.
“Why is the FFA chief executive Ben Buckley paid around double the salary of his National Rugby League counterpart David Gallop?,” asks Palmer.
“The government should be asking serious questions about the operations of the FFA. Football is the world game and the sport has one of the highest participation levels in Australia and a strong following nationwide.
“Yet as Warwick Smith’s report points out, A-League clubs including Gold Coast United are losing a combined total of more than $20 million a season.
“Why are clubs losing money when the sports administrators are among the highest paid in the land? Why does the FFA keep so much of the revenue generated from the sport?
“Whoever replaces Mark Arbib as Sports Minister should be looking at this as should Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.”
With just four games to go this season and heading for the wooden spoon, Gold Coast United's hopes of fighting back on the field appear dashed due to an off-field fiasco and a battle of the billionaires.