What is the point of Palmer’s “Football Australia”?

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    Clive Palmer and his Gold Coast United club have been booted from the A-League AAP Image/John Pryke

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    Another day, another further stride into the mire for Australian football, thanks to rogue Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer.

    Now the game has a new body, ‘Football Australia’, led by Palmer to either remove Football Federation Australia or campaign against the governing body.

    It’s hard to tell.

    ‘Football Australia’ has a name, conveniently similar to the Football Federation Australia’s, a logo and even a slogan – “We Kick Harder”.

    Yes, you read that right, “We Kick Harder”.

    At that point, I was sure this was a joke, until Palmer revealed Archie Fraser, the former chief of the A-League, as the inaugural CEO of his new body.

    Now we know why Fraser, who we thought was an in the know observer, was so fervently backing Palmer and raising the prospect of a potential breakaway league.

    Yet from their first day of existence there were huge contradictions coming from ‘Football Australia’, Palmer and Fraser. While initial statements suggested the aim of the newly found body was to replace Football Federation Australia, in keeping with the breakaway insinuations, in later media briefings they were quick to distance themselves from leading a breakaway league separate of the current governing body.

    “Secondary competitions are difficult, there are a whole range of things that would have to be sanctioned so that’s not really what we’re about today,” Fraser said to the press, seemingly forgetting his comments from earlier in the week suggesting a breakaway led by club owners was a possibility.

    “I would certainly extend my hand to the senior executives and the chairman of the FFA to actually embrace this and get involved.”

    So was the easing of the threats as the remarkable day went on in response to the lukewarm response they received from other clubs? Perth Glory owner Tony Sage, who has been a vocal critic of Football Federation Australia, quickly distanced himself from the row. And there was little to no response from Nathan Tinkler’s Newcastle Jets, who must surely be looking to his Wayne Bennett-led NRL club as a welcome distraction from the goings-on with his round-ball club.

    If a breakaway league or attempt to replace Football Federation Australia is the goal, then it needs the support of the clubs, so the ball is well and truly in their court. But hopefully we can take from Sage and Tinkler’s silence on ‘Football Australia’ and the other clubs’ unwillingness to engage in this debate as a sign that they are disinterested knowing the irrevocable damage it would cause; that rather than Palmer representing the masses he is leading the minority.

    As the clubs have hopefully realised, Palmer isn’t the man to unite behind. Yes, Football Federation Australia has its flaws and needs to reform, but Palmer’s handling of this matter, Gold Coast United and even his other businesses (why has he been involved in 68 court cases?) shows that he is not the right person to led this change.

    The clubs should also take note of the consequences of a breakaway. The Asian Football Confederation and by extension FIFA will only recognise Football Federation Australia as the official affiliated member association representing Australian football, for clubs and country.

    If they and other Palmer supporters, who remarkably seem to think the code can survive all this, want to see the impact of a rival league, take a look at Indonesia, where the game is in a mess following the creation of a separate, rebel league.

    So what on earth is the point of ‘Football Australia’, then? If the intention is work within the current frameworks of the governing body, what role does it play? To “monitor and ensure good governance”, as Palmer described, as an independent football body with some divine right to cast judgment on the government body? So in other words a think tank made up of disgruntled employees?

    So are they the right people to provide a fair and balanced watchdog over the governing body? Really?

    It’s hard to tell what’s going on in all this. Who would have believed it would have gone this far? On the one hand you could come to the conclusion that these are mere maneuverings as Clive Palmer and Football Federation Australia get set for a court battle over the revocation of Gold Coast United’s licence.

    This is perhaps Palmer, with more money than sense, willing to deflect blame and portray his club as the innocent victims of an incompetent governing body by any means necessary.

    This is likely a group of disgruntled Football Federation Australia victims eager to fight back, that have the means and desire to create their own shop, grouped together yet unsure of how to utilise this new found power.

    Yesterday’s events stunk of a shambolic series of events with the perpetrators not sure where it would all lead.

    If we can take anything from the events of yesterday it’s that Palmer and Fraser and any of the other brains of the ‘Football Australia’ operation don’t know what they stand for and where they are going.

    Their comments, given their track records, represent the height of hypocrisy – no better than the governing body they are taking up are against. So how can they justify themselves as the saviours of the game – the good against the bad?

    The sad thing is by polarising this saga and forcing Football Federation Australia to take up an even more aggressive stance, they are perhaps precluding the reforms of the game this new body is calling for. These actions have further divided a game beset by long-standing divisions.

    Perhaps that’s their intention – divide and conquer.

    Australian football is well and truly in the mire.

    Remember the actual football? There is a final series around the corner, if you didn’t realise.

    Adrian Musolino
    Adrian Musolino

    Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.

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    The Crowd Says (114)

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 5:25am
      Matthew Skellett said | March 2nd 2012 @ 5:25am | ! Report

      I think the whole idea is to intimidate Mr Lowy into some sort of truce about the vital issues regarding good governance in Football in Australia-Mr Palmer (unless he dies suddenly from complications linked to his morbid obesity )knows he has time on his side -all he has to do is wait until Mr Lowy is out of the way(dies, gets dementia or retires from the game ) and no one else either has the money/power and /or charachter/courage to resist him and Mr Tinkler and then it really will be a mess .

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:02pm
        Axelv said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

        I think Frank Lowy, despite his age is in a greater bill of health than Clive Palmer, Lowy will out live him.

        • March 3rd 2012 @ 12:01am
          Bearfax said | March 3rd 2012 @ 12:01am | ! Report

          Sick to death of these super rich egos like Palmer who want their substantial cake and to eat the lot. I’m happy if they want to invest their money into sport, instead of unproductive excesses, but the caveat is that they let the experts handle the workings of sports administration. Seems like they feel that because they’ve bought into a public entertainment that they can play with it like their own possession, like the little boy in the sand pit who grumps when he doesnt get his own way and takes his toys home. Grow up Mr Palmer and let the public enjoy the sport without your interference and temper tantrums please.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 5:46am
      mobo said | March 2nd 2012 @ 5:46am | ! Report

      If he tries to create a league which actually rivals the A-league competition in ambition I’m going to laugh my butt off. Imagine having another Melbourne football team against the Melbourne Victory and the Melbourne Heart. It would be overkill.

      If he does create a league it has to be some sort of a national second division league (and it has to be marketed as such) to create another bridge for those playing in the state leagues into the his new league with superior facilities and more money put into the technical science than those state league clubs.

      Australia simply cannot sustain two premier leagues going up against each other like Rugby because a) the rules would be the same so their is no divisive reason to like the other league and b) we can barely support the other 9 clubs let along have another 9 or 10 directly going up against it.

      Nonetheless it’s still a wait and see proposition but as Mr Musolino pointed out so far things everythings still very messy coming out of the Palmer camp and so it’s hard to be optimistic yet.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 10:53am
        Paul said | March 2nd 2012 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        A third club in Melbourne, or one in regional Victoria, would be more viable than one in Gold Coast after this s***-storm!

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 6:30am
      Kasey said | March 2nd 2012 @ 6:30am | ! Report

      Wait until the Fink himself shows up. Then we’ll know for sure its just a group of every body browned off by any aspect of the way Lowy has revolutionized football in this country. Like a better funded SBS, they’ll just sit on the sidelines taking pot shots at the game and the FFA, which will be gleefully reported by the sympathetic press as from “Football Australia” do you think they’ll go to the trouble of explaining the difference between FA and FFA to the general public? For anybody that thinks Palmer has the greater interests of the game at heart with this stunt….I have a bridge I can sell you, its shaped like a coat-hanger. As is said in every Star Wars movie before Sh*t goes down, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this. ” OR, they are so blinded by their hatred of Lowy that they’ll latch onto anything and have zero concern for the welfare of our game. In which case, it looks like there’s a job for you now. 🙁

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 8:53am
        Pete #205 said | March 2nd 2012 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        • Roar Guru

          March 2nd 2012 @ 11:21am
          Griffo said | March 2nd 2012 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          Yep, still alive and kickin’…

          • March 2nd 2012 @ 11:24am
            Kasey said | March 2nd 2012 @ 11:24am | ! Report

            and still a totally predictable one-trick pony:(

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 4:58pm
          TomC said | March 2nd 2012 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

          Wow. People still pay him to write stuff? I thought his laughable performance on the 7.30 report killed off his sad little career.

          Typical personality driven stuff by Fink. Just trots outs his tired old gripes about the FFA.

          I look forward to many more years of not reading his articles.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 7:22am
      Lucan said | March 2nd 2012 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      I’m happy to pot FFA for most of their avoidable errors, but CP is continuing to prove himself an even bigger f’wit when it comes to dragging our game down.

      I honestly think it is now time the media ignores Palmer and his football angst and opinions. Sure, report on any legal action he may take as it affects football as we know it, but these press conference stunts are embarassing. As Adrian highlights, and to use management speak (apologies), they’re not even ‘on message’. If he and he cronies could put forward consistent and logical arguments it might be a different story but they keep failing to do so.

      We know Palmer and co won’t walk away gracefully, so let’s just stop pandering to his whimsy and close the book on this whole debacle.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 7:46am
      Puddy said | March 2nd 2012 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      This reeks of the old NSL, Soccer will not get a third chance in Australia, unfortunately Australian Soccer needs the support of very wealthy people like Clive Palmer. Soccer Federation Australia expanded the A-League way to quickly, they didnt consolidate their teams and they are now paying for it.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:04pm
        Axelv said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

        No it does not need the support of wealthy people like Palmer.

        Wealthy people like Bakrie, Sage and Tinkler though are nice.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:47pm
        Bob said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

        Never heard of Soccer Federation Australia, how many associations do we have now?

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:59pm
          Kasey said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

          Puddy is a Victorian, you’ll have to excuse him, he’s confused that the world doesn’t bow down and recognize Australian Rules as the one true ‘football’. Its just too much to expect him to understand that just like there are many David’s in the world, right now we have 4 different codes all called football depending on who is speaking. Me I use context to decipher which is being talked about. Still when he can’t get too and to correct, what hope do we have of understanding him? 😉

          • March 2nd 2012 @ 5:15pm
            Axelv said | March 2nd 2012 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

            Actually Puddy is from Adelaide, bad luck! 😉

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 8:19am
      toddm said | March 2nd 2012 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      how can you bring tinkler into the story he hasnt said a thing yet ?? give the guy a break

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