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.