Following a couple of years of agitation, working groups and negotiations, which finally led to a change in the FFA constitution, the expanded congress were able to vote in the new board at Monday’s AGM.
If the NSL and former Soccer Australia represented “old soccer”, and the Lowy revolution, the A-League and the FFA represented “new football”, how do we describe the changing of the guard and the new board? Oldish Newish Soccer Football seems apt.
The lead up to the AGM certainly took us back to the political machinations of old soccer. Craig Foster wooed the electorate like a seasoned politician, except the electorate he was appealing to were not the ones voting. Days out from the AGM, he saw the writing on the wall and withdrew his nomination, despite being the clear favourite amongst the football loving public.
Mark Rendell, who was linked to Geoff Lord’s Belgravia bid which did not make the short list, withdrew his nomination soon after.
Judith Griggs, who chaired the CWRG and helped author the report which ushered in the necessary constitutional change, pulled out of the race a while back.
On the Friday before the vote, football commentators such as Ray Gatt of The Australian and Bonita Mersiades, founder and editor of Football Today, were reporting on the four candidates most likely to get voted onto the new board. On the morning of the vote, Joseph Carrozzi publicly confirmed his resignation from the GWS board of directors, so confident was he of his spot on the new FFA board.
When the voting finally took place, three candidates reached the 60 per cent threshold after the first round of votes. Heather Reid, former Head of Canberra Football, was almost unanimous, with 90.78 votes.
In other words, one federation and one A-League club did not vote for her.
Carrozzi came in second with 75.56 votes and Chris Nikou came in third with 68.44 votes. Of the rest, Stephen Conroy and Remo Nogarotto were the best positioned to land the fourth seat, finishing in the low 40s. Interestingly, at this point of the voting, Conroy was actually in front of Nogarotto.
At the other end of the voting, then current board member, Daniel Moulis was sitting on 12.22 votes (the equivalent of two federations’ votes) and surprisingly, former referee Mark Shield received zero votes, even failing to land a vote from those who nominated him.
In the second round of voting, only Nogarotto and Conroy received votes, with the former jumping to the lead with 53.11 votes, but still short of the 60 per cent threshold.
Before the third round of voting took place, Conroy retired from the race.
With two directors to be co-opted by the board, Conroy remains in the race for one of those seats, as does the only other female in the running, Linda Norquay.
Later that evening, the board elected Chris Nikou to the Chair, and Heather Reid as the Deputy Chair.
Now, while I would agree it’s far too early to judge the composition of the board or to predict what’s likely to happen, there are some interesting pointers.
Both Remo Nogarotto and Joseph Carrozzi were involved with NSL clubs, and the former held senior roles in Soccer Australia before it was disbanded and replaced by the FFA.
Given how the Lowy regime distanced itself from “old soccer”, with these two appointments, we see a slight move back in that direction.
Heather Reid is much respected in the football community, reflected in her near unanimous election. She has been a strong voice for women’s football, and grassroots football more generally, and I don’t expect that to change.
With a Canberra bid being one of the shortlisted bids for A-League expansion, you would think those behind that bid won’t be disappointed at Reid claiming the Deputy Chair.
As a former head of a small federation, one would expect Reid was a Lowy supporter.
With Nikou, we have a Chair who is very much a “new football” person and an outspoken critic of “old soccer”.
He has previously been on the Victory board, but the most curious aspect of his recent roles is that he has been on the FFA Board since October 2014.
He worked with Griggs on the CWRG report recommending constitutional change, but then was part of the FFA board which rejected the very same report.
All in all, of the four directors voted in, we have two from “old soccer” and two from “new football”. That might represent a healing of sorts, but one wonders, is this the “change” everyone had in mind in bringing the game forward?