Exactly what is it that Steven Lowy fears?

Stuart Thomas Columnist

By Stuart Thomas, Stuart Thomas is a Roar Expert

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    With the threat of a normalisation committee seemingly put to bed, the FFA will now receive a visit from FIFA representatives, attempting to resolve the impasse between our national body, the state associations and the professional game.

    It is somewhat embarrassing really, that supposedly level-headed and fair-minded business people in a wealthy western country, cannot find common ground on the financial and structural future of football in Australia.

    My experience of conflict has led to a pretty simple theory of human nature and the motivations behind arguments and positions. That is, if both parties seek true common ground and a solution to the problem, it will happen.

    Alternatively, if one party is determined to be the recalcitrant, refusing to budge on an agenda driven position that serves their best interest alone, then negotiations appear doomed.

    Subsequently, the only way forward is mediation and intervention and this is the case with Australian football.

    Steven Lowy comes to the administration of the game in the pioneering steps of his father. Frank Lowy’s long history in association football aided the birth of the A-League and Australian football is the better for it.

    However, after two years in the top job at the FFA, any credit that the family name afforded him appears to have evaporated, as he refuses to budge on a congress structure that reinforces the control of the game in the state associations, while allowing the professional entities little or no say.

    Throughout urgent meetings, desperate negotiations and eleventh hour discussions, Lowy has held firm. To many, the 9:4:1:1 proposal appeared balanced and equitable. His headstrong stance plays out publicly, as a refusal to secede power at the expense of football’s growth.

    Steven Lowy

    (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)

    The key question around Lowy is whether his stubborn insistence is personal or professional.

    From the outside, it resembles the stance of a proud businessman, fearful of some reckless cowboys seeking to usurp his position. As we are all well aware, sometimes a boss will dig in their heels based purely on the fact that they have been challenged.

    More altruistically, Lowy’s consistent position could be driven by wisdom and experience and have the betterment of the game at its core. If this is Lowy’s modus operandi, I am proud of him.

    The head of the FFA standing up to a rogue challenge that could harm football in this country would be an admirable position for an administrator to take. However, for the life of me, I just can’t work out exactly what Lowy and his board fear, apart from a loosening of their grip on the game.

    What negative ramifications would the inclusion of a broader spectrum of voices in a restructured national congress actually have?

    Money is, no doubt, a sticking point. With a much improved television deal and the long term future looking bright, the PFA, A-League and W-League want more say in its distribution and credit for its generation.

    The collective ‘phew’ of David Gallop, Steven Lowy after the Socceroos qualified for Russia was reflective of the sheer importance of the bottom line in Australian football.

    Is Lowy’s determined position based on a fear of frivolous spending and the professional game ripping millions from the coffers at the expense of junior football?

    Somewhere along the line, I think he has formulated a belief that spending money on marquee A and W-League players, paying salaries that keep more home-grown players in Australia and building the quality of both leagues, comes at the expense of the state based realities of grassroots football.

    Football people know that it is indeed those structures that will provide our next generation of Socceroos and Matildas. I for one, feel confident that with astute minds in charge and a truly democratic congress, that both aims can be addressed in the best interests of all. At the moment, it all seems too autocratic.

    The FFAs position indirectly opposes the increased voice of women’s football, which continues to surge.

    It confounds me as to their thinking. The future of football in Australia requires equal representation and the women’s game will add so much weight to the financial and structural growth in Australia, it should be a no brainer.

    It also appears the FFA continue to baulk at the notion of promotion and relegation and despite teasing us with rhetoric over the last five years, have delayed its implementation. Of course it will happen, it is fait accompli, so why the delay?

    Placing the final structural elements in place to make the A-League truly compliant with FIFA’s demands isn’t optional. If the FFA’s procrastination stems from fears of a more tenuous grip on the game, as power becomes distributed more broadly across the country, then shame on them.

    Providing a quality second tier for fringe A-League players, promising youngsters and those returning from injury should be a priority for the FFA.

    For too long Australians have occupied the benches, both home and abroad and received insufficient opportunities. Lachlan Scott, Nick D’Agostino and Christian Theoharous require more minutes to develop the hard edge and professionalism we will need from them in the future.

    Looking from a safe distance it appears the beneficial impact of promotion/relegation is not understood or appreciated by the FFA.

    Perhaps their argument would be based on speed; suggesting that timely implementation is key. The return of serve would be that doing nothing is the antithesis of speed.

    Their response to the issue of the salary cap could be quite similar, citing wise counsel and patience. Yet at what expense, as the Asian Confederation gets stronger and Australia treads water.

    While encouraging parity, a cap restricts growth and holds back those with more in the coffers. Critics claim it is restraint of trade.

    Conservative cap proponents will favour minor and timely increases that allow slow growth and protect the weaker participants.

    There is some irony is capping a game yet finding vast sums to lure Tim Cahill-like players back to our shores. The message appears to be, we need players like that in our league but we can’t allow you the purse strings to purchase them.

    tim-cahill-melbourne-city-a-league-football-2016

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    The FFA may fear the demise of smaller clubs or a situation where a limited few can compete. However, those scenarios exist in world football because of expansive and daring administration that has allowed leagues such as the EPL and La Liga to become the powerhouses they are today.

    Protectionist policies will always keep you safe, but small. Along the way, there will be some carnage and some baggage will be jettisoned, however, without the risk and endeavor, there is no reward.

    As badly as David Gallop and Steven Lowy want to hang around in dressing rooms, showered in champagne after another successful qualification bid, that will become less frequent in the long term.

    Without freer spending that allows Australia to keep up with cashed-up Asian nations, we may well slip behind the curve, as football in the region booms.

    Exactly what Lowy and his board fear is not clear to me. I have inklings, theories and sheer rumour informing my opinion. What concerns me the most is the motivation behind the rigidity of their position.

    At the heart of all the debate and turbulence, should lie the future of the game in this country. Right now, it is becoming more difficult to believe that all parties share that same vision.

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

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    The Crowd Says (166)

    • December 12th 2017 @ 7:09am
      AR said | December 12th 2017 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Isn’t it all just about money and control?

      Currently, the FFA uses the ALeague to pay for the rest of the game. This includes, in part, the Socceroos and Matildas.

      Take that away and funds become even more threadbare (though for the life of me I will never understand how David Gallop and his team conmand $1.5M+ salaries… but I digress).

      I’ve never bought into the notion that the Lowy’s are power hungry moustache-twisters. I think they genuinely fear several aspects of the game could suffer if they lose the balance of power from the Congress.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 8:50am
        chris said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        Did you go to any games on the weekend AR?
        Have you ever been to a football match? I’m guessing no

        • December 12th 2017 @ 9:22am
          Hubris said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

          Amen brother, sing it to the choir!

          We will decide who posts on the football tab, and the circumstances in which they post“, right?

          Get him boy, get him!

          • December 12th 2017 @ 9:32am
            chris said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:32am | ! Report

            And here is another wonderful football fan with nothing to add but tripe.

        • December 12th 2017 @ 1:13pm
          Realist said | December 12th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

          So which part of what AR wrote do you disagree with? Care to raise those points as a discussion?

        • December 13th 2017 @ 8:46am
          vin said | December 13th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

          whats wrong with AR’s post? all of the FFA’s executive team earn more than double the prime minister, you tell me how its justified for a non profit ogranisation that is suppost to be for the good of the game.

          oh we need an independant board otherwise we will go back to the bad old days, yeah but look how much money this independant board is taking away from the clubs and the game each year.

          we need an idependant board made up of ex players and coaches, not greedy business man looking after themselves first.

          • Roar Rookie

            December 13th 2017 @ 9:09pm
            Stevo said | December 13th 2017 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

            Agree with your view.

            The tax department states “Sporting organisations are not-for-profit societies, associations or clubs established for the encouragement of a game, sport or animal racing.”

            That would include AFL and NRL as well as FFA. The FFA execs are simply putting their hands out for the kind of salaries available in the other sports organisations. Rightly or wrongly.

        • December 14th 2017 @ 12:12am
          Evan Askew said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:12am | ! Report

          I absolutely hate and despise few other things like I do AFL I but I see nothing wrong with what AR wrote.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 8:56am
        Waz said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

        AR

        “Currently, the FFA uses the ALeague to pay for the rest of the game” …. well, that’s the Lowy theory but it’s not clear from the FFA accounts what it does with the HALs money.

        There’s also a lack of transparency in Lowy’s statements on the topic, on one hand he says be needs the spare cash to fund other areas of the game and on the other he says he gives a lot back to the clubs above the cap payment to cover other costs. Which is it?

        And we’re only talking about a sum of less than $50m/year. That’s not much.

        The bottom line though is the HAL should not be subsidising grassroots or the national teams. So his argument is false.

        • December 12th 2017 @ 6:37pm
          j,binnie said | December 12th 2017 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

          Waz – Don’t know how you feel about this but based on excellent information, I am repeatedly being told that there are part-time players in the lower leagues being paid sums of between $1-3000 per game.
          Now what I would love to read is how someone running a team that is attracting 1-3000 people to games can afford to be paying out wage bills like that,and more importantly ,where is the money coming from?.
          So that you don;t get the wrong idea about my thinking I watched most of the FFA Cup games and, despite myself,- started to view the “combatants” with a view to – Who would I sign if I were scouting for an HAL team.?.
          Sadly, despite many of the commentators describing the experienced players who had played in the HAL, I found myself registering very few who IMO would walk into any HAL team.
          Both these observations have led me to think the running of semi- professional teams in the lower divisions has not improved all that greatly from the NSL days and I wonder if this is a situation the FFA are aware of but are not really in a position to do anything about.
          So that readers don’t get the wrong idea,I have nothing against players being paid for playing but I am basing my opinions on the administrators that run such clubs and how they dispense their club’s financial assets.. Cheers jb.
          ,

      • December 12th 2017 @ 8:57am
        Nemesis said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        The ALeague is in its 13th year of operation. For the first 10 years, the ALeague was being subsidised by the rest of the FFA’s football operations. The FFA had to bail out clubs virtually every season for the first 10 years, which drained further resources & cash from the FFA coffers.

        Parts of this comment have been removed for breaching The Roar’s comments policy.

        • December 12th 2017 @ 9:02am
          AR said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

          Irony still not your strong suit is it?

          Fuss, if you can provide a single example of me ever suggesting – “that without the Socceroos TV content, the ALeague TV content was worth virtually nothing” – then I’ll agree you have a legitimate point.

          Until then…

          • December 12th 2017 @ 12:57pm
            Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

            AR, the forum rules don’t require proof or evidence of anything it seems. Look at yesterday, with Mike claiming “alienation” is why fans aren’t going to games, why Ange left. Zero evidence presented and yet many other “true believers” seemed to take it as truth

            • Columnist

              December 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm
              Mike Tuckerman said | December 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

              The proof, as I pointed out to you yesterday Fadida, is lower attendances.

              I didn’t say “alienation” is why fans aren’t going to games – this isn’t an Edvard Munch painting – I said: “Yet by the time it happens a huge swathe of the supporter base will have already been alienated.”

              I have no intention of risking legal action by discussing Postecoglou’s departure for the sake of arguing with an anonymous online critic in the comments section.

              But I will say this. I find this relentless nit-picking over such utterly pointless minutiae so tiresome that it’s a wonder anybody ever writes anything about the A-League.

              • December 12th 2017 @ 2:41pm
                Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

                Ha! Mike, you’ve said falling attendances were down to FFA alienating fans. Your quote above says as much, that fans will have been alienated (which suggests there is some “alienating”going on).

                I gave a number of alternate reasons as to why crowds were down; poor performances of the bigger clubs, weather, WSW not having a home ground among them. If the storms come on Saturday as predicted, the Jets crowd will be down by 4-5k on those that fine weather would attract. The history of Jets attendances says this to be fact. The narrative many are driving on here is that everything is down to FFA, that fans are consciously deciding not to watch their teams because there is trouble at the FFA. I’m calling BS on that line of argument.

                Are you suggesting you do know the reasons behind Ange’s departure? Tell us then, rather than the general, “he was alienated”. Surely if you know the actual reasons then legal action can’t be brought?

                Just to clarify Mike, I don’t consider myself a “critic”. Like you I have an opinion. Like you I offer it. If I ever overstep the line and get personal feel free to let me know, but opinion pieces I believe require responses both agreeing and disagreeing. It is what the Roar is here for is it not?

        • December 14th 2017 @ 11:10am
          Neil said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

          Well put.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 11:17am
        Billary Swamper said | December 12th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

        Yeah the game is really on a knife’s edge. The international faction of club owners within the A-League want more of the revenues for obvious reasons, but the FFA under Lowy know they need to keep some of it to run all their programs. Then you have the noisy old brigade wanting another division. How the hell that would ever work is beyond me. We tried it in the 1970s and 1980s in the old NSL and it led to the eventual destruction of the NSL.

        What could happen is the Melb City faction, the old NSLer brigade, the woman’s PC gang getting control of the good ship Aussie soccer that they in turn, then revolt against each other just like the good old former Aussie soccer federations that we once had.

        Not sure what the answer is, but I thought we were on the right path until this little tiff blew up. More people turning up to games and more viewers on the box would help, then they could do all these wonderful expansionistic things. Instead the public seems to be deserting the local product in droves heading to the Euro leagues instead.

        What I do know is that it will be a major mistake to go back to creating an NSL 2.0 and expecting different results. Expand with some geographically representative teams, not these expat community clubs. Follow the AFL, not the NSL.

      • December 13th 2017 @ 8:45am
        vin said | December 13th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        whats wrong with AR’s post? all of the FFA’s executive team earn more than double the prime minister, you tell me how its justified for a non profit ogranisation that is suppost to be for the good of the game.

        oh we need an independant board otherwise we will go back to the bad old days, yeah but look how much money this independant board is taking away from the clubs and the game each year.

        we need an idependant board made up of ex players and coaches, not greedy business man looking after themselves first.

    • December 12th 2017 @ 7:54am
      marcel said | December 12th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      Stuart…if you really want to understand this.. try to imagine yourself in charge… responsible for both success and more importantly…. failure.

      I know you are a school teacher…no offence intended.I enjoy your contributions…but business is a world you can’t begin to understand…

      You work in a protected field… I bet you’ve never gone home on a Friday night unsure whether the school would exist next week.

      Your article is based on a gut feeling that everything will work out for the good.

      Steve Lowy, who runs a 30 billion dollar empire…with direct experience of watching many thousands of his tenants go bust over the years..takes a more cautious view.

      I’d highly recommend watching his last press conference if you haven’t already..he answers your questions.

      • Columnist

        December 12th 2017 @ 8:07am
        Stuart Thomas said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

        Ahhhh, no he doesn’t.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 8:14am
        Waz said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        “I’d highly recommend watching his last press conference if you haven’t already..he answers your questions“ … he does not answer the question.

        Lowy has brought the game to a crisis point in Australia, if he did that in the corporate world he would be out.

        • Columnist

          December 12th 2017 @ 8:22am
          Stuart Thomas said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

          Agreed Waz. The insinuation that a journalist would construct a piece like this without being aware of a whole range of press conferences held in recent times is rather insulting.

          • December 12th 2017 @ 3:21pm
            marcel said | December 12th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

            Ok…so your a journalist now…

            • Columnist

              December 12th 2017 @ 4:35pm
              Stuart Thomas said | December 12th 2017 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

              Also someone who has worked in the banking sector, studied business and has extensive Boardroom experience. I don’t want a blue with you Marcel, I love your contributions, however, cloaking all my life experience into, ‘you are a teacher, no offence, but you really have no idea how business works’, really pushed my buttons. I’m sure business is your thing and you are no doubt bloody good at it. I would like to know what Lowy feels will happen to Australian football if the change takes place. Apart from some rhetoric, I am still not sure.

              • December 12th 2017 @ 5:18pm
                marcel said | December 12th 2017 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

                My apologies Stuart…no offence was intended..If it came across that way..again my mistake.

    • December 12th 2017 @ 8:00am
      Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      Good article Stuart.

      I’m most interested to know how, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, football fans contemplating going to see their local club suddenly think to themselves, “you know what, I feel alienated by all of this stuff, I’m staying home to watch WBBL”.

      Alienated I tells ya!

      • December 12th 2017 @ 8:54am
        chris said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Fad what you say is true.
        Whats been happening in the FFA has no short term impacts on the game.
        But this needs to be sorted out quickly and no doubt it will when FIFA come here to mediate.
        My take on S Lowy is that he’s an all or nothing kind of guy. Whereas his father had to learn to compromise as he built his empire, silver spoon son just expects everything his way.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 9:04am
        AR said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        Fadida makes way more sense than most around here.

      • Roar Guru

        December 12th 2017 @ 1:24pm
        Rick Figjam said | December 12th 2017 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

        Comment of the day.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 3:51pm
        Caltex TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | December 12th 2017 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

        Yep I feel alienated, I don’t go to live football matches anymore.

        I could have attended the Roar FC match on the Coast last Saturday just down the road from me, but with all the dramas that have occurred with the FFA and the A-League club owners; I said to myself, why bother, they will eventually all go broke under the S. Lowy leadership?

        1) S. Lowy FOX TV deal. Fail
        2) New business owner ship model (still waiting). Fail
        3) Expansion of new clubs into the HAL. Fail
        4) S. Lowy’s no show at Ange’s resignation at his press conference. Fail (S. Lowy distrusts Ange for standing up for the PFA).
        5) Falling attendances and appalling FTA TV ratings also alienating SBS and their supporters. Fail

        I could probably add more, but I think you have got my drift. There is no vision, or sign of progress, it all looks so bleak and boring, which reflects badly and entirely on Australian Football as a whole.

        • December 12th 2017 @ 4:21pm
          Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

          Enjoy your alienation

          • December 12th 2017 @ 4:33pm
            Caltex TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | December 12th 2017 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

            S. Lowy and Gallop out!!! And in place a new progressive football administration with an eye on the future and progression—and not the same old boring conservatism, then I’ll be back!

            • December 12th 2017 @ 4:49pm
              Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

              And here was me thinking that people to to football because they love to watch the football. The standard has never been higher here but that apparently isn’t enough.

              No, we go to football to watch good governance off the field….. what?!

              Some fruity people in this country and apparently they’re not all from Qld.

              • December 12th 2017 @ 5:14pm
                Caltex TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | December 12th 2017 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

                So if you are saying good governance is not essential, then why on earth do we have elections?

                That’s right good old NSL should still be in control of sokkah! Good for you!

              • December 12th 2017 @ 5:57pm
                Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

                Comparing football and politics?!!

                People go to football to watch football, to be entertained. It’s a sideline, a distraction from the real world. If the football is good, and sometimes even if it isn’t, people watch it and enjoy it. They don’t care about what is happening at boardroom level.

                Except in Australia it seems, where people get personally offended

              • December 12th 2017 @ 7:26pm
                punter said | December 12th 2017 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

                Fad,
                I think you have been told before that not everyone is like you or me, who just go to the football & enjoy it.

                I have enjoyed the football this season, SFC are playing some very good football, I don’t not go to the football because Arnie is more Hobart then Hollywood, I don’t know too many people who go to watch the coach. But then that is me. I think Arnie does a a great job, so hence I don’t understand the Hobart jibe as the reason why SFC fans are not turning up.

                However have a look at the forum of 442 & you see many disillusioned / dare I say alienated by the governance under Lowy jr. Now just like you I don’t really understand why, but there seems to be a few people like this.

              • December 12th 2017 @ 7:37pm
                Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 7:37pm | ! Report

                My Hobart jibe was further to my claim that many Sydneysiders (SFC regulars not included) want bling, shiny, glitzy big name marquees to be attracted to going to games ie Hollywood. Winning football isn’t enough.

                Arnie is an exceptional manager at this level and has produced a side that are relentless and I really admire. His media presence and his gum chewing, gruff, shouting, complaining match day persona couldn’t be further from “bling” if he tried.

                I simply don’t understand people deciding on a beautiful summer’s afternoon that they won’t go to support their team of the last 5-10 years, not because they aren’t winning, or exciting, but because they aren’t happy with the way the governing body are running things.

                An extraordinary mindset.

              • December 12th 2017 @ 7:52pm
                punter said | December 12th 2017 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

                Exactly providing my point, I totally agree with you, but so many others are different to our way of thinking.

              • December 12th 2017 @ 8:48pm
                AR said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

                “No, we go to football to watch good governance off the field….. what?!”

                There are excuses, and there are really really good excuses.

            • December 12th 2017 @ 5:35pm
              LuckyEddie said | December 12th 2017 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

              Spare us that useless meaningless word – progressive. Tell us what you think will help the game but spare us all the lefty terms. Your ‘progressive’ parties around Aus, especially QLD, have done absolutely nothing for football.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 5:57pm
        Redondo said | December 12th 2017 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

        The rusted-ons are rusted on fans, and, the never-will-bes never will be fans.

        But in between there are lots of current and potential fans who make a purchasing decision every week about whether they’ll spend their time or money on the A-League.

        If all they ever read about the A-League is negative, even if it’s not about the football itself, some will stop attending and watching. Brand image has a huge impact on their decisions. So ‘alienated’ is a reasonable description of where the current parlous state of affairs leaves many fans.

        Sometimes it seems commenters on the Roar would be happy for the A-League to settle for the already rusted-ons and ignore every other potential customer.

        • December 12th 2017 @ 7:49pm
          Caltex TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | December 12th 2017 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

          Yep I agree with that. If the brand is trashed you soon lose support. Do we really want to go down the same road as Australian Rugby?

    • December 12th 2017 @ 8:18am
      Waz said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      This is a great question but one I don’t think we’ll ever know the answer too.

      Frank Lowy’s time in charge was successful but controversial; Steven’s a failure and controversial, but it could have been so different.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 9:04am
        Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        In all seriousness Waz, if Frank was still in charge, do you think the same “failures” would have arisen? It seems to be we have hit a period of natural growing pains that may have caused problems regardless of the leader. Almost a puberty stage, with the growing kids rebelling against a controlling father?

        • Roar Guru

          December 12th 2017 @ 2:25pm
          Griffo said | December 12th 2017 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

          I think this is the crux of it Fadida.

          So long has the A-League run on a similar model (albeit with salary cap increases), which still loses money for ‘owners’, which the FFA cannot fund all they wish to do for the whole of football from the current media deal they have.

          I believe there was a time when taking a good look and taking some risk to grow the league was there, but a risk-averse approach in ‘consolidation’ was taken.

          I also think that with foreign owners the FFA, while virtually taking the money with one hand, failed to see that they don’t have the game in this country ‘at heart’ like the local owners.

          While you can look at different countries and point out the differences, it is, from a decision point of view, the similarities in needing to make a decision on growing the league that is obvious (think MLS, J-League).

          It doesn’t look like happening and now the owners, NPL clubs, PFA etc. no longer have the patience – and dare I say it the foreign owners never would have as much.

          While Stuart touches on the side of the FFA and what it is they aren’t doing, I think it is just one side and the discussion needs to consider what the ‘other’ side is doing, and whether there is some truth that it is a two-sided power struggle for money that will be to the detriment to football as a whole, not just a kick-start to cashing up the A-League with flow-on benefits to the whole game.

          I really don’t think we will know the answer until it happens, which will be all too late then.

          Steven Lowy had a platform and a chance to change direction. If the funds were that poor that he couldn’t and the other stakeholders didn’t like it, that is one thing. Not taking those opportunities if they were there is something else.

          There is no doubt that more and varied voices are needed. Lobbying and voting blocks just becomes all the more likely with a much larger body.

          • December 12th 2017 @ 4:19pm
            Caltex TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | December 12th 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

            Lowys are running the FFA, like their successful Westfield shopping malls.

            If a retailer sinks all of their savings into a retail shop in a Westfield shopping mall and goes broke—it doesn’t matter to them, because there was always some other retailer waiting in line to take their place.

            Football owners, are not in the same abundance and they should watch out.

            With online shopping now taking a real hold on their retail market operations, things are going to change. I think the Lowys are not capable of change and will increasingly find the going tough, with Amazon Australia, now coming into directed completion with shopping malls.

            This is the point—the Lowys are not capable of change and adapt from what was once a successful business model in the past, to what is required to be successful in the future.

            Time for a change in leadership.

            • December 12th 2017 @ 5:37pm
              LuckyEddie said | December 12th 2017 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

              Can you give your political rubbish a rest?

              • December 12th 2017 @ 7:39pm
                Caltex TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | December 12th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

                If you don’t like then don’t read it.

            • December 12th 2017 @ 5:45pm
              Nick Symonds said | December 12th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

              “Lowys are running the FFA, like their successful Westfield shopping malls. ”

              Not any more –

              http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-12/westfield-trading-halt-hints-at-takeover-bid/9250776

              • December 12th 2017 @ 8:34pm
                Caltex TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | December 12th 2017 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

                Amazing; I guess they can after all see the writing on the wall with online shopping taking over with fewer retailers willing to go broke under their excessive rental demands.

              • December 13th 2017 @ 3:20am
                Fadida said | December 13th 2017 @ 3:20am | ! Report

                Perhaps westfields should have expanded or introduced pro/rel? the shops that sell least are out!

      • December 12th 2017 @ 10:18am
        pete4 said | December 12th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        I agree Lowy Jnr seems to have assumed too many things 1 being he would command his Dad’s respect from everyone

        A little understanding and consideration on his part would have avoided this whole situation it seems

    • December 12th 2017 @ 9:09am
      Nemesis said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      This is all about ego, power & money. Steven Lowy wants to be Chairman of the Football Federation of Australia. It’s a title that opens doors to the offices of Governments – not just in Australia – with associated financial benefits for Lowy’s business interests. No harm in this. Lowy & the FFA Board do not get paid directly for their time as Office Bearers of the FFA, so I’ve no issue that they receive indirect business benefits from their position.

      Anyone who think Steven Lowy (or anyone who seeks power) is in this for altruistic objectives, to help ensure grassroots football gets a fair deal, will probably think a fat bloke in a red woolen suit, will come down your chimney on Christmas Day.

      But, Steven Lowy should not be afraid. If he truly is the only person who can save Australian football, then I’m sure the New FFA Congress will vote him back onto the FFA Board and the FFA Board will vote him back as Chairman of the new FFA. Now, I must go put out some biscuits & milk for that fat bloke & some carrots for the reindeer.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 9:18am
        spruce moose said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        Do the board reps – especially the chair – not get paid at all? Surely they get a basic fee or stipend for their service?

      • December 12th 2017 @ 9:27am
        jamesb said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

        “Now, I must go put out some biscuits & milk for that fat bloke & some carrots for the reindeer.”

        It’s only December 12th. They will go stale by the time December 25th comes around lol.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 10:25am
        AR said | December 12th 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        Amazing isn’t it?

        When Lowy took over the Chair, Fuss championed him, defended the democratic process, and mocked anyone who dared questioned his credentials or motives.

        Now it’s apparently “all about ego, power & money.”

        Funny how quickly it can all change.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 11:29am
        The poser AR said | December 12th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        Totally agree Nemesis . . . or thanks Nemesis for agreeing with me…

      • December 12th 2017 @ 3:57pm
        marcel said | December 12th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

        Fuss…you normally have the smarts on this sort of thing..but this time you are wrong.

        Westfield Group does not remotely need the FFA to expand it business interests…the idea that this is a power grab is simply fanciful.

        • December 12th 2017 @ 4:16pm
          spruce moose said | December 12th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

          Hear hear.

          Steven Lowy already has exceptional access to any minister at state and federal level anyway. Him being the Chair of a significantly smaller country with a significantly smaller footprint at a domestic and international level is hardly going to help him open doors.

          Comes with the territory of being a billionaire running an MNE…

    • December 12th 2017 @ 9:11am
      Worried said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

      Football has a long history in Australia, longer than most countries in the world game.
      However throughout that history, Administrators have on numerous occasions decided that they alone knew best. And the game has suffered accordingly.
      The constant restructures of competitions have done nothing to improve the lot of those, whose wish is to see their clubs rewarded for effort and success on the park.
      Too often the criteria for inclusion is changed by people sitting in an office and not directly involved with the operation of matchdays.
      Is the current situation with Steven Lowy hurting the game? One only has to look at the grass roots to see the dwindling number of volunteers on matchdays, the shortage of team Coaches, Managers, Canteen helpers etc.
      The current system whereby FFA and their State subsidiaries OWN the game, and the clubs are mearly customers, who can take it or leave it, cannot extract the maximum benefit for the game, while this level of alienation continues.
      Change HAS to happen!

      • December 12th 2017 @ 10:48am
        chris said | December 12th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        worried not sure if you were around when the NSL was, but things have certainly improved. Things were run on the smell of an Italian sausages on a panini or cavapis on a stick.
        Today we have a fully functioning professional league with serious exposure to Asia and a NT that is going to its 4th consecutive WC.
        I coach at grass roots level and what you are saying regarding coaches and volunteers is not what I see.
        What the FFA have done is ensure that coaches are properly trained and provide a blueprint to follow to align coaching methodoligies etc.
        There are countless volunteers who manage teams, run canteens and fill out paperwork.
        We have over 1 million players in this country so football must be doing something right.

        • December 12th 2017 @ 6:10pm
          Worried said | December 12th 2017 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

          Yes mate I was around, And I’ll even admit the A-League is an improvement on the NSL.
          But the conversation that is going on seems to assume that football only exists at the elite level.
          You say you are a coach and do not see the drop in volunteers, then you are indeed a very lucky club, over the years I have been involved with a couple of different clubs and still have contact with them. Everyone I talk to complains about the drop in volunteers, most also complain about the lack of respect those remaining volunteers get treated with by the State Federation! The two cannot be unrelated. And I believe FFA are responsible for the attitudes and behaviours of the State Federations.Under their business model they have the power to require the States to provide better leadership.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 11:29am
        Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        So now FFA are to blame for a lack of volunteers at grass roots?

        I can tell you that in the NSL days there was a lack of volunteers at grass roots level too

        • December 13th 2017 @ 4:31pm
          Worried said | December 13th 2017 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

          Of course there was and there always will be, but there are people who were volunteers walking away. These are people who were invested in the game. Nobody wants to put 20, 30 40 hours a week and more into their club to be told, your opinions don’t matter.
          These people don’t want to run Football in Australia, they just want to contribute at their clubs level and be appreciated for the efforts they put in. Not treated like fools whose ideas don’t count! And that IS how many of the State Federations (FFA Sub-branches) do treat them. No vote and no input!
          And YES as the National Body FFA are responsible for everything that does or does not happen, it goes with the territory!

          • December 14th 2017 @ 11:58am
            Fadida said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

            They’ve never had a voice Worried

      • December 12th 2017 @ 11:44am
        Billary Swamper said | December 12th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        Just to correct the ill informed. Creating the A-League has led to full time professionalism in soccer here. Before that the players were semi pro, weekend warriors who held jobs during the week. That was for the entirety of the NSL era and before that.

        As for development programs it was just luck we created players back in the day. There was the Institute of sport program, but they have more than that now.

        Getting into the AFC has been a massive improvement. We get serious games now, no matter what happens or how successful we are. Be thankful for that.

        Things are growing, but just not quick enough for some. It will take a long, long time.

        • December 12th 2017 @ 12:14pm
          Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          Agree. Patience is in short supply in this “want it now” culture though.

          • December 12th 2017 @ 12:37pm
            Waz said | December 12th 2017 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

            It’s not about wanting it now, it’s about wanting continuous albeit steady progress.

            Things haven’t been grinding in the professional layer of football for 5 or 6 years – we have stagnated.

            • December 12th 2017 @ 1:10pm
              Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

              Agree, we have stagnated. My point is around people wanting another 4 teams, and pro/rel by neat year.

              • December 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm
                Waz said | December 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                Agree. A big part of the problem is the lack of a vision from the FFA who actually run the competition.

                Expansion criteria. No.
                Expansion timing. No.
                Expansion target. No.
                Second division. No.
                Pro/Rel. Opposed.
                W League expansion. No.

                FFA seem to have been celebrating the stagnation – last year they celebrated the same number of clubs for the n’th season which was clearly out of step with fans desire for expansion.

                It’s just allturned into a mess so we get the “everything now”brigade.

              • December 12th 2017 @ 2:46pm
                Fadida said | December 12th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                I agree they should have expanded this season, or at least have declared expansion for next year. It is the time.

                What if really like is for FFA to come out and tell us why it’s not, and this is the frustrating part.

        • December 13th 2017 @ 4:35pm
          Worried said | December 13th 2017 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

          Just for the record.
          Football in Australia did not start with the NSL or the A-League.
          And many matches played between Marconi and Leighardt drew crowds that todays A-League clubs would be grateful to achieve.
          Not ALL the old ideas were bad, and when they put FFA in charge I belive they threw the baby out with the bathwater.

          • December 14th 2017 @ 12:00pm
            Fadida said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

            Or they rescued the professional game from complete collapse….

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