FFA, A-League owners join forces

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    Football Federation Australia and A-League club owners have agreed on the formation of a new strategic committee to govern how the competition is run.

    Follow an historic meeting of owners in Sydney on Thursday, FFA announced the creation of the joint A-League Strategic Committee (JALSC), to be chaired by FFA deputy chairman Brian Schwartz.

    Two other FFA directors and three A-League club chairmen – decided by the clubs – will be appointed to the six-member body, which will meet every two months.

    Thursday’s meeting came after growing concern from club owners over the lack of transparency and accountability of the governing body and a desire to have more say in how the league is run.

    FFA chairman Frank Lowy said there was now a “united stance” while FFA chief executive Ben Buckley believed the formation of the committee would given the game’s investors the hands-on role they desired.

    “I think it will go a long way to addressing the issues they have about having a more direct say into the policy formation of the A-League,” Buckley said.

    “That was our purpose from the outset in establishing it and, pleasingly, I think the owners were positive in their response to the sort of matters the committee would look at and the decision making authority it would have.”

    The scope of matters to be considered by the JALSC will include the competition’s structure and schedule, revenue growth strategies, player contract regulations, salary cap and community engagement strategies.

    Buckley said the situation at Gold Coast United was discussed on Thursday but no decisions had been made on the future of the embattled club.

    “What we said was we’re still reviewing our position there,” Buckley said.

    “We know there is some interest from prospective local investors and we’ll formulate our view on that over the course of the next few weeks.”

    United’s future may not hinge solely on the ability to find new backers, however, with Buckley saying FFA was also assessing whether it was worth persisting with a team in the city.

    “We have to assess whether there is a viable supporter base on the Gold Coast to support a team … and is there a group of individuals who have the financial capacity, and the management acumen and commitment to make a team successful on the Gold Coast?,” he said.

    Buckley said opportunities for a western Sydney franchise would not be explored until a decision had been made on Gold Coast and did not rule out the possibility the league could feature only nine teams next season.

    Buckley said the meeting had resolved on Thursday to maintain the club quota of foreign players at five for next season, with the rule to be reviewed beyond 2012/13.

    Speaking on behalf of club owners, Central Coast Mariners chairman Peter Turnbull welcomed the changes made.

    “This committee will provide a meaningful opportunity to direct the development of policy and strategy for the competition,” Turnbull said.