FFA’s governance meeting: The state of play
Football Federation Australia (FFA) will sit down with A-League
club owners, state associations and Professional Footballers
Australia (PFA) on Friday at a meeting that could have lasting
ramifications for Australian football.
FFA needs to set a date for an extraordinary general meeting
(EGM) by March 31 to meet FIFA’s deadline for governance reform
and the expansion of its congress.
The congress, which currently includes 10 voters – the lowest
of any FIFA member, elects FFA’s board.
Under the current set-up, the nine state and territory
associations each have one vote, while the 10 A-League clubs
have one vote between them.
FFA has separately met with the three stakeholder groups – the
state associations, A-League club owners and PFA – over the
past six weeks.
It is understood FFA will use Friday’s meeting in Sydney to
gauge support for its governance reform plan.
FFA has rescheduled the meeting twice, claiming certain
stakeholders would be unable to attend the previous two dates
but Goal understands that has been a stalling
tactic by chairman Steven Lowy and CEO David Gallop to gather
Ahead of a meeting that could change the landscape of
Australian football, Goal takes a look at the
key players and their priorities.
Football Federation Australia
The national governing body has had a tough 2017, with its
reported desire to delay expanding its congress rejected by
FIFA in February.
FFA has also claimed it cannot afford to expand the A-League –
much to the frustration of fans – under the competition’s
current ownership and operational model.
Things appeared more rosy for Lowy and Gallop when they
announced a $346million broadcast deal for the A-League late
last year, but the Herald Sun has reported that due to
consultancy fees, contra deals and bonuses, the true figure may
be up to $80m lower.
FFA wants to expand its congress as little as possible – the
more voters there are, the less power Lowy and Co. will wield –
but with both the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA
tracking progress, it seems the national governing body is
under pressure from all sides.
The unopposed election of Lowy to replace his father Frank as
chairman in 2015 is understood to have prompted the AFC and
FIFA to investigate FFA’s governance.
Arguably FFA’s most vocal critics are the owners of the 10
A-League clubs, who are pushing for a greater say in the
running of the game, more money and – possibly – independence
from the national governing body altogether.
Having formed the Australian Professional Football Clubs
Association (APFCA) in November, the club chairmen have
appeared relatively united over the past few months.
It is hard to believe, however, that the priorities of smaller
clubs like Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix are
completely in line with Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, for
Representatives of Sydney, Melbourne City, Western Sydney
Wanderers, Adelaide United and Perth Glory all attended a gala
event in early February when Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro
outlined the APFCA’s goals.
The APFCA wants a say on A-League expansion, a significant bloc
of seats in FFA’s congress and for all money raised by
Australia’s professional competition to be reinvested with the
State and territory associations
In order to pass any governance reform, FFA needs a 75 per cent
majority – or eight – of the 10 current congress members to
support its proposal.
With nine of those 10 votes being held by the member
federations, this is where the balance of power lies.
In the past, the state and territory associations have
generally seemed unwilling to rock the boat, but Football
Federation Victoria (FFV) and Football NSW (FNSW) are expected
to stand with the APFCA on Friday, leaving FFA one vote short.
FFA has been frenetically lobbying behind the scenes over the
past couple of weeks – some of the deals rumoured to be on
offer are staggering – while there is a belief in Victoria that
the timing of reports regarding alleged FFV misconduct are a
little too convenient.
With FFV and FNSW – at least – not prepared to back FFA
unconditionally, the push for genuine change appears to be
Professional Footballers Australia
The players’ union will not have a vote at FFA’s
yet-to-be-scheduled EGM but PFA has been involved in the
national governing body’s consultation process since the
beginning and will attend Friday’s meeting.
This is partly due to the expectation PFA is a frontrunner to
be enfranchised in an expanded congress but also due to its
position as a key lobby group.
FFA has had enough experience of PFA’s power in previous
negotiations over players’ rights and collective bargaining
agreements that it appears Lowy and Gallop were keen to keep
the union – led by John Didulica – onside.
This will not necessarily benefit FFA in the long run, however,
as PFA is understood to be supportive of the A-League-FFV-FNSW
Women’s football is one of PFA’s main priorities, while the
union is always interested in increasing the number of
professional opportunities for players, meaning it is likely to
support A-League expansion and the formation of a national
National Premier Leagues clubs
The absolute wildcard that FFA has yet to formally include in
its consultation process is the newly formed Association of
Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) that represents clubs below
While it remains to be seen whether the AAFC has timed its run
too late to gain a seat on FFA’s congress, the publicity the
NPL clubs’ representative body has generated since an
exploratory meeting on March 6 has been extraordinary.
The AAFC will hold its first official meeting on Monday and has
claimed both the AFC and FIFA support its bid to be included in
FFA’s expanded congress, while the group also want to establish
a national second tier below the A-League.
There has been criticism this week that AAFC members are
already represented in the congress via the state and territory
associations, with the boards of member federations elected by
representatives of zones within each region.
While these zone representatives can be affiliated with NPL
clubs, to insinuate that the priorities of state associations
and second-tier clubs are identical is misleading.