Is it time to consider Frank Lowy’s successor?
Craig Foster wants to know his “appropriate role” is in the next evolution of football. Robbie Slater suggests he should buy us all Christmas presents. And Andrew Jennings says he should resign as head of Football Federation Australia and give taxpayers their money back. They’re all talking, of course, about Frank Lowy.
Ever since Australia received a single vote in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, conjecture has swirled around Lowy and his future as patriach of the Australian football community.
While Lowy’s tenure as head of the FFA went largely unquestioned before the fateful vote in Zurich, he’s copped some serious flak on the back of Australia’s poor showing in the bidding process – and not just from the usual anti-football brigade.
Writing in the Fairfax press yesterday, former Socceroo Foster took Lowy to task for brushing aside criticism from Zeljko Kalac and ex-Socceroos coach Les Scheinflug, with Lowy claiming the pair were past their use-by date.
Foster stopped just short of suggesting the same about Lowy, but he’s not the only high-profile commentator wondering whether it’s time for the billionaire Westfield magnate to unveil a legitimate succession plan.
Any such plan seems likely to involve Ben Buckley, but it’s fair to say many critics were decidedly underwhelmed when Lowy revealed he would stick by his much-maligned deputy despite the crushing disappointment of Zurich.
What is clear is that the A-League needs a drastic overhaul – regardless of who’s in charge – and the premature demise of Sydney Rovers won’t help the cause one bit.
The FFA should be hauled over the coals for their bungling of the entry of a western Sydney team into the A-League, not least because it was common knowledge Rovers never had the start-up capital to enter the competition in the first place.
Now Buckley and co are forced to go cap in hand to bidders they’ve already turned down, suggesting due diligence is sorely lacking in the hallways and board rooms of the FFA.
And with the game’s governing body looking set to ignore the appeals of fans to save the beleaguered North Queensland Fury, there could be another black mark against the A-League before it even kicks off again next season.
Three home games in the space of eleven days at Gold Coast United have attracted truly abysmal crowds of just 1,716, 1,658 and 1,714 fans, and all the free tickets in the world won’t change the fact the club are about as popular as a certain Sepp Blatter on the so-called glitter strip.
But money invariably talks, so Clive Palmer’s unpopular United look set to stay in the competition at the expense of the Fury, who are bleeding money and players at an alarming rate.
What an experienced European coach like Franz Straka must think of the situation is anyone’s guess, but I hardly think the Czech tactician is going to return to Europe with glowing reports about how the A-League is run.
For all the myriad problems in the A-League, Frank Lowy clearly won’t be around to solve them forever, so now is as good a time as any to start considering the next generation of football leaders.
The A-League must learn to survive without Lowy, who has done more than most to promote football in Australia, but who is surely canny enough to know that devising a succession plan is an integral part of building an empire.
Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he has settled in Brisbane and has been a Roar columnist since December 2008. Follow Mike on twitter @Mike_Tuckerman