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Working Group report recommends that A-League be spun off from Football Federation Australia

Working Group report recommends that A-League be spun off from Football Federation Australia
August 7, 2018
Sport /

The A-League should be separated from Football Federation Australia (FFA) and run independently in time for the 2019/20 season under a proposal by a FIFA-backed working group.

The 100-page report from the congress review working group (CRWG) was made public today after its submission to world football governing body FIFA last week.

The report is expected to be agreed at a meeting of FIFA's member associations committee on 20th August and then be put to a vote at an FFA extraordinary general meeting in mid-September.

The plan needs 75% backing at the FFA meeting to pass, meaning in effect that eight ‘yes’ votes will be required out of the 10 on the current congress are required for the recommendations to be adopted.

If the vote fails, FIFA could suspend Australia's membership - potentially putting the Socceroos' defence of their Asian Cup crown at risk and throwing the domestic competition into turmoil.

The report notes opposition from the FFA board to its two key recommendations - the structure of an expanded congress and the suggested pathway for the A-League to become independent.

However, it was signed off by all eight CRWG members - including FFA board member Chris Nikou - as well as independent chair Judith Griggs.

Welcoming the findings, Australian Professional Football Clubs Association Chief Executive Greg Griffin stated “this report and its recommendations represent an opportunity for a new era of collaboration, transparency and democracy for Australian football.

"They are borne from a process of unprecedented cooperation and engagement between the diverse stakeholders of our game - interactions that should be given every chance of becoming the cornerstone of a brighter future for the entire game."

The CRWG has proposed for the new congress to grow from 10 to 29 members – the nine state federations, nine Australian A-League clubs, Professional Footballers Australia plus and a new ‘women’s council’.

The women’s council would comprise 10 members, with three each nominated by the other stakeholders in the congress, plus an independent chair selected by FFA’s nominations committee.

The allocation of votes in the congress is designed to take away the ability for any one group to elect or remove directors or pass constitutional change without support from another.

It also commits to a review of FFA’s governance structures every four years.

The report suggests a collaborative ‘New Leagues Working Group’ be formed to establish the framework for a new operating model for the A-League.

The working group would consist of representatives from the state federations, clubs and PFA, plus FFA board members and management, who would submit their plan by the end of March 2019.

However, FFA is opposed to key elements of the plan, with Chairman Steven Lowy releasing a statement advising that while there were "many elements" of the report which were a positive step forward, the governing body still had deep reservations with the report.

Lowy’s statement added “there are also some crucial aspects of the report which the FFA Board does not believe are in the best interests of the game and are inconsistent with its guiding principles submitted at the beginning of the process.”

The FFA said the proposed model weighs too heavily towards professional football at the expense of grassroots; that it grants A-League clubs the ability as a bloc to veto amendments to the FFA constitution; and that it delivers Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) disproportionately greater voting representation than each member federation.

It added that the proposed model doesn't sufficiently broaden the membership of the FFA, and that the alternate A-League model was inconsistent with "foundational good governance principle[s]".

It has been reported that the FFA has secured the support of four state federations - the ACT, Northern Territory, Tasmania and Northern NSW – to oppose the recommendations at the EGM.

This group has submitted a counter proposal to the CRWG, the details of which remain confidential.

However, it is understood these proposals will not be considered by FIFA, whose remit is to simply approve or reject the report they commissioned from the CRWG.

Image: A-League action as Western Sydney Wanderers take on Central Coast Mariners. Courtesy Damian Briggs Photography.

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4th April 2018 - Independent chairperson to lead FFA reform

30th March 2018 - Clubs unhappy at lack of FFA consultation over A-League expansion plans

29th March 2018 - FFA moves to add two new clubs to A-League competition

21st January 2018 - Revelations from former FFA Executive set to reopen 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting controversy

7th December 2017 - FFA Board avoids dismissal as FIFA agrees to lead stakeholder negotiations

30th November 2017 - Reform model rejected at FFA Congress: potential that FIFA will administer football in Australia

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9th July 2017 - Ongoing governance dispute sees FIFA threaten to take over running of Football Federation Australia

3rd February 2017 - FFA reform promise appeases A-League clubs

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