Perth Glory chief Tony Sage has felt the backlash of disgruntled fellow A-League club owners after reluctantly backing Football Federation Australia's decision to renege on its pledge to fully fund the $2.5 million salary cap this season.
The ruling body, still awaiting the lifeblood of funds from the proposed TV rights deal, has been under fire for backing away from its promise and instead tabling a $1.9 million grant for the forthcoming season - before fully covering the cap at the beginning of the 2013-2014 A-League campaign.
FFA has also been lambasted for failing to cover the full cost of travel and accommodation for A-League clubs this season, only agreeing to pay for parties of 18, rather than the 21 the clubs were lobbying for.
FFA said it will meet the 21-party quota in 2013-2014.
"I've been vilified by the other club owners over my stance. The FFA has agreed to meet our demands in full next season and I accept that," Sage said.
"It's not really FFA's fault - you can't really squeeze blood out of a stone.
"If there is no extra money there, you just can't do it. The new TV rights deal won't start until 2013-2014 and that's where the cash will be coming from."
Sage, once a strident critic of FFA, admitted he has been caught in the crossfire, but appreciates the difficulties that are at play.
"I was particularly disappointed when the FFA wouldn't implement the travel and accommodation package we were looking form," he said.
"Most clubs take a party of up to 23 on their travels and the FFA only pays for 18. We were arguing for 21 to be covered.
"That was a blow but next year it will be implemented to cover 21."
The demands were core issues for the clubs tabled by its representatives on the joint A-League strategic sub-committee set up last May. The group comprised Sage, Adelaide United's Greg Griffin and Melbourne Heart's Peter Sidwell along with FFA directors Joseph Healy, Brian Schwartz and Phil Wolanski.
Both Griffin and Sidwell have been at loggerheads with FFA over the timing of the introduction of the cap and the funding of the National Youth League.
A number of emails have been fired off at FFA, one from Griffin allegedly saying: "I am not wasting my time anymore on this mob."
Griffin refused to discuss his email anger on Wednesday.
"My view is the cap is generous. It is what it is. I am not getting into emails alleged to have been written by me," he said.
"There is another sub-committee meeting due soon and that's the appropriate forum for us to raise our issues."
FFA CEO Ben Buckley's position appears increasingly tenuous with David Gallop, former NRL CEO and now Acting Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission, increasingly linked with the job, amid the simmering tensions between the clubs and the governing body.
"There is frustration and some anger out there and I understand that," Sage said.
"Of the owners, I've been the one who accepts the FFA's decision.
"We are getting what we wanted, but it's taking longer than the clubs wanted and we will all struggle again financially as a result."
Sage denies he has lost his fire.
"I have to take into account what's best for the other nine A-League clubs, not just what is best for Perth Glory," he said.
One major win for the clubs, though, is being allowed by FFA to keep the full amount from overseas transfers, effective immediately, as opposed to a continuation of the punitive system that saw them hand over 20 per cent to FFA.
"That's gone now and is a big hit to FFA. Last year there were $3 million worth of transfers and they got 20 per cent of that. That will no longer happen," Sage said.
The sub-committee meets again in October, by which time Sage hopes the new TV deal, which is expected to include a free to air component for 2013-2014, will have been finalised.
"That's the expectation," Sage said. "We are hopeful it will be put to bed by then."
The existing deal, negotiated while it was an eight-team competition, is worth $18 million a season and expires in 2013.
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