FFA chairman Steven Lowy is set to step down in November. Picture: AAP
FFA chairman Steven Lowy is set to step down in November. Picture: AAP

FFA war leaves A-League expansion up in the air

PLANS to expand the A-League could become collateral damage in what looms as a period of huge uncertainty in Australian football over the next three months.

Change at the top of Football Federation Australia - in one form or another - appears inevitable after FIFA's endorsement of proposed governance reforms that are strongly opposed by chairman Steven Lowy and his board.

What it all means for A-League expansion, nobody can say for sure. Two new teams are set to enter the competition in season 2019-20, with the nine bids to submit their final proposals to FFA by next Friday.

Team 11, based in Melbourne's south-east, and the newly merged Macarthur South West Sydney bid are believed to be the two clear frontrunners.

An announcement on which teams will enter the A-League is due to be made by the FFA board on October 31.

But the composition of that board is expected to change very soon, and the implications could delay the expansion.

Lowy has announced he will not seek re-election at November's annual general meeting.

But there's a chance FFA's directors could be removed sooner if the congress review working group's recommendations are not adopted next month.

An extraordinary general meeting of FFA will take place sometime in September, with the reforms to be put to a vote.

If the vote is not successful, those pushing for change could retaliate immediately by spilling the FFA board.

Six out of 10 votes are required to remove a director under the FFA constitution - and in NSW, Victoria, SA, WA, Queensland and the A-League clubs, the six votes are there.

Alternatively, if the reforms are not passed, it's expected FIFA will intervene by sacking the FFA board and installing a normalisation committee, or suspending Australia's membership.

Either way, there would be no board in place to make a decision on expansion in October as planned.

Even if the board does survive until November, there are contrasting views within the A-League clubs as to whether their call should be obeyed.

Some clubs are fully supportive of expansion and happy for it to go ahead as planned.

Others believe the process set out by FFA has been flawed from the start and that any choices made by an outgoing board are illegitimate.

There are also fears that with the A-League due to be spun off and run independently in season 2019-20, bringing in two brand new clubs at the same time is fraught with danger.

For the time being at least, FFA management is proceeding full steam ahead with expansion.

Meanwhile, backers behind some bids are thinking twice about investing in the A-League given the events of the past few months.

 

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