FFA terminates League license of Gold Coast owner

Football Federation Australia has terminated the A-League
license of outspoken Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer for
breaches of the club participation agreement.

The billionaire mining magnate has been critical of the A-League
and its administration in recent weeks as his club has floundered
at the bottom of the 10-team domestic league.

FFA chairman Frank Lowy on Wednesday said the sport’s national
governing body had been ”left with no alternative than to
terminate the Gold Coast United’s license” after three recent
breaches of the participation agreement.

”We can’t let anybody thumb their noses at us saying ‘We’re
going to do what we want to do but I want to stay.”’

He outlined the three recent breaches as being: a conscious and
deliberate contravention of FFA policies and procedures; deliberate
defiance of a direction that was given by FFA; and repeated public
statements … that bring the A-League, FFA and the game of
football into disrepute and are prejudicial to the interests of
FFA, the A-League and the game of football in Australia.

On the weekend, Gold Coast United refused to remove unsanctioned
”Freedom of Speech” logos on its stadium and jerseys – placed
over sponsor signage – during a match despite warnings from the
A-League that it contravened regulations. The club announced after
the match that it would continue to use the logos.

”This behavior came on top of public comments that displayed a
total lack of respect for football and the millions of Australians
who love the game,” Lowy said. ”Such disrespectful behavior, a
flagrant disregard for the rules and a stated intent to continue
breaking the rules made for an intolerable situation.

”As custodians of the game, we had to act to protect the
integrity of the A-League on behalf of the other nine clubs,
players, coaches and most importantly, the fans.”

Lowy said the FFA was examining ways of having a Gold Coast team
contest the last four matches of the regular season, but conceded
Sunday’s away match at Wellington Phoenix may have to be
postponed.

Palmer, a lawyer, had in recent weeks virtually dared the FFA to
make a move against him by threatening legal action.

He continued in that tone Wednesday, posting on Twitter that
Gold Coast United ”intend to fight this ludicrous decision by
incompetent FFA in the courts.”

Last week, Palmer fired Miron Bleiberg after news reports were
published saying the United coach had quit after he was
suspended.

Bleiberg’s dismissal came only a day after Palmer was quoted in
a Brisbane newspaper as describing the team as insignificant, the
competition as a joke and rating rugby league as a better game.

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley conceded at the time ”there
would be no Gold Coast United without (Palmer’s) commitment, but I
guess some of the comments … mean that we have to evaluate the
future of the Gold Coast United team.”

Palmer later said his comments on football were taking out of
context by the Sunday Mail newspaper, but didn’t back away from his
criticism of the A-League and its administration.

He said he had no confidence in the administrators and the way
the league is operated in Australia, but vowed never to sell the
club.

Palmer has long been a critic of the sport’s administrators and
caused a stir in 2009 when he capped the crowd attendance at
matches to 5,000 fans to save stadium costs. He later withdrew the
cap, but United has struggled to attract large crowds despite
finishing third and fourth in the two seasons after joining the
league in 2009.

The A-League’s expansion plans have been slowed by financial
problems for some clubs, including the decision to shut down the
North Queensland Fury. To help, the league has been selling stakes
in the clubs to foreign investors, including the 100 percent
ownership of defending champion Brisbane Roar to an Indonesian
company.