No one is enjoying seeing football in Australia implode right now. We’d all rather watch the Socceroos put Poland to the sword, pat each other on the back and pretend everything is alright.
And it is – if we turn the other cheek. But as someone who loves the game and wants to see it become a more integral part of our culture (not sporting, but in every aspect of our lives) it’s incumbent upon me and anyone who cares to speak up about what’s going wrong.
Only if we address what is not working can the game move forward. We did it with the Stewart Report. We did it with the Crawford Report. Just because Frank Lowy is again involved with the game doesn’t mean we in the media have to suspend our critical faculties.
Lowy is not faultless. You can read his biography (which I edited) and see for yourself that for all the outstanding successes of his career he’s experienced failure too, the biggest his disastrous purchase of Channel Ten.
Sadly the A-League is threatening to become another millstone for Lowy because for too long he’s kept a safe distance from it, allowing other people to make decisions on his behalf. That has to change.
He needs to become personally involved again and use his considerable business intellect to help navigate the league out of what is fast turning into a crisis.
Then again, the panacea could be as basic as simply devoting more time getting the A-League right.
For too long many within the game have kept their counsel about Football Federation Australia’s problems because of who Lowy is and what he has already done for the game.
But when a former apparatchik of the national body comes out and blasts FFA
Archie Fraser was the boss of the A-League. He knows what he’s talking about because he’s seen first-hand how the game is managed from within. And what he saw was obviously of such concern for him to quit his post in April.
What he has told The World Game supports what many insiders at the FFA have been saying privately for months.
“There is no promotion of the game and no cohesive strategy,” he said. “When I was head of the A-League I couldn’t make any decisions, and no decisions were ever made until the last minute. Everything went through [FFA chief executive] Ben Buckley.
“The organisation is purely reactive and never stands up for the game. We never take on the other codes and a lot of people within the FFA seem to be happy with that… the other codes must be looking at us and thinking how good is this?”
Alarmingly, Fraser also suggested the process of bidding for the 12th A-League licence, which ended up going to Sydney Rovers, was not awarded on merit, backing what various groups who missed out have been saying for months and which I discussed here for TWG last October
One disgruntled party has been actively petitioning MPs for an inquiry and by rights should probably get it.
“I don’t think you will see [Rovers] next season because the backing just isn’t there at the moment,” Fraser said. “There were other more deserving causes for an A-League licence.”
FFA wasn’t created out of the ashes of the old Soccer Australia to become another law unto itself where there was no accountability, where old-boy networks rule and where good people are let go because they know too much.
The stakeholders of the game deserve much better. FFA is a damn sight better than Soccer Australia and I’m grateful for its existence but it’s not beyond reproach. Just like Lowy.
Something has to be done and fast. It’s time for intervention, straight from the top.
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