Football Federation Australia has today sensationally axed Gold Coast United from the A-League after a tenuous two weeks of conflict between the football body and United owner Clive Palmer.
The FFA announced at 2pm today that it had issued United with a termination notice following breaches of the club participation Act.
These included a “conscious and deliberate contravention of FFA Policies and Procedures”, “deliberate defiance of a direction that was given by FFA” and “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”.
Frank Lowy said Palmer’s recent bagging of football and the A-League, along with the club’s stupid shirt protest last week made for “an intolerable situation”.
In its statement, the FFA said “FFA has exhausted attempts with the owner of Gold Coast United to facilitate an orderly process under which the club could complete its remaining fixtures in the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League season and comply with its obligations under the Club Participation Agreement.
“Mr Lowy made repeated attempts this morning to talk directly with Mr Palmer to appeal to him to allow a smooth completion of the season and a dignified exit from the game for Mr Palmer. These calls went unanswered.”
FFA called on the other A-League owners and the football community to encourage Palmer to allow a “smooth and fair outcome to the season”.
FFA has flagged that it may pay the Gold Coast players for appearing in the final four games of the season, while it is possible this Sunday’s United v Wellington clash may be postponed.
While obviously it would have been better if Gold Coast had been axed after the end of the regular A-League season, so as not to unduly influence the race for the finals, FFA decided this was impossible. And to be honest, there is every indication that Palmer would have cooked up some more cooky stunts for the final games.
After handing a 17-year old the captaincy, sacking the coach, making half time talks and the shirt and signage protest, what would come next – a ball boy getting the skipper’s captaincy, his son made the new manager or ‘Mining Rocks’ on the next United playing strip?
With Clive it’s hard to tell. The FFA has made a very, very tough decision. But I think the right one.
Gold Coast will be missed by its fans – the few thousand it has – and by the young players it has helped developed and given an opportunity to, but by hardly anyone else in the A-League.
They have been a shambles this season. Their empty stadiums are a huge blight on the image of the competition.
The problem is, it seems the real battle between the FFA and Palmer is only beginning. This is surely headed for the courts now, and a legal battle is something the FFA can hardly afford or want played out in front of everyone.