A-League expansion club Macarthur dealt blow by CEO's shock exit

Archie Fraser Source: Getty Images

Macarthur FC - the A-League’s 12th club - have been rocked by the resignation CEO Archie Fraser after just four months in the job, amid questions over the chain of command and power structures at the fledgling A-League franchise.

The former A-League chief announced his resignation on Thursday, forcing chairman Rabieh Krayem, the club’s recently appointed chairman, to take on an executive role to fill the void.

Fraser, who is returning to Melbourne for a job in the IT sector, refused to comment on what prompted his abrupt exit.

However, sources outside the club have alluded to structural issues being the catalyst for Fraser’s departure.

One sticking point, it’s understood, was Fraser’s attempt to grapple with the inordinate influence of part-owner, board member and football director Sam Krslovic, the former Sydney United powerbroker.

It’s believed Krslovic was the arbiter in the appointment of Ante Milicic for the club’s maiden A-League season in 2019-2020, with the current Matildas’ chief reporting directly to him.

Krayem, however, contended that a binding football structure had yet to be finalized, insisting the board will “sign off on that in due course”.

While expressing his regret at Fraser’s departure, Krayem insisted it was “full steam ahead” for the club based in Campbelltown in Sydney’s south west who will join the competition in the 2020/21 season.

He also insisted that the club’s internal structures would continue to be put into place and people “shouldn’t read anything into it (Fraser’s resignation).”

“We’re on the same course we set (after being awarded the 12th A-League license),” he said.

“All I’m doing now is taking over what Archie started and continue with the plans we’ve already put in place.

“There’s no deviation from the plans we had. In fact it’s made it quite easy because a lot of the work has been done already.

“I respect the decision he’s made to take on a role in Melbourne - he’s done what’s right for him.

“There are no issues from our perspective - hats off to him. Am I happy with the decision? No. Do I respect it? Yes.

“Moving ahead, we have people in a place to build a structure and I believe they’re the right people.”

Macarthur FC is 50 per cent owned by billionaire property developer Lang Walker, with the rest of the shares funneled between Krslovic, property financier Gino Marra and several of their cohorts.

“We’ll look at the structure and a new CEO at a point of time,” added former Australian Association of Professional Clubs chief Krayem.

“But at the moment I’ll take a more hands on role and we have some critical things to do in the next six to eight weeks including several key appointments.”

Fraser declined to comment when contacted by The World Game.

But he did say in a club statement: “I am grateful for the opportunity to be the inaugural CEO of Macarthur FC, but after a few months in the role, I have chosen to head back to Melbourne to take on a role in the technology sector.

“My thoughts are that it was best to make this decision early, and in the best interests of the club before things really kicked off.

“I am confident that Macarthur FC will be a fantastic club and a great addition to the A- League from season 2020-21, and whoever is eventually appointed to the role will find enthusiasm from the local football fans, business community and local government Councils.

“It is a wonderful football area, with outstanding potential.”