Australian Football In Turmoil After Club Bosses Claim Lowy 'Derailed' Two Agreements
The future of Australian football "now rests in the hands" of FIFA after an extraordinary day that left the sport "embarrassed and in turmoil," according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. In a "stunning day of farce and backstabbing," the warring parties involved in a "long-running dispute" over the make-up of the sport’s governing congress on Thursday failed to reach an agreement. The parties remain at odds despite numerous meetings that involved deals being finalized, only to be "twice derailed after alleged interventions" by Football Federation Australia Chair Steven Lowy. Failing any "highly unlikely" last-minute deals or interventions, it will "now be left to FIFA to determine what happens next." And it is not "going to be good." A-League club chairs were "left stunned and angry" with Thursday’s turn of events after it appeared they had "twice won the battle to get a greater say in the running of the sport." It is believed the agreements would have "secured the clubs five seats on the congress, an increase of four under a revamped 9-5-1 set-up" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/11). In Sydney, Dominic Bossi reported the first agreement was "all but reached late on Wednesday night at a private meeting" between the clubs, Professional Footballers Australia and the state federations at a hotel near Hyde Park. Sources alleged that after hearing news of the deal, Lowy called the state chairs into his Westfield office, "where a heated exchange is said to have taken place." The next morning, the deal between the clubs and the states "was off." Talks between all parties resumed at 10am on Thursday. The clubs, states and players "held private discussions again" during the lunch break and returned to FFA HQ in unison, having again reached consensus, agreeing on specific terms surrounding the 9-5-1 model. Upon their return, Lowy is understood to have "requested another private meeting with the state federations, sidelining FIFA, the clubs and the PFA out of the room." More than two hours later, the doors were opened and the clubs, the PFA and FIFA were "allowed back into the room, where it was announced the deal was once again off" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/10).