FFA technical director Rob Sherman has decided to quit after just nine months in the job, disillusioned by the lack of backing from A-League clubs and state federations.
Sources close to the Welshman - who stated after his appointment that “urgent and immediate action was needed” to address Australia’s player pathway crisis - claim Sherman believed he had hit a brick wall and could no longer continue.
Though his arrival in June pre-dated the inauguration of new FFA chief executive James Johnson, it will come as a blow to the reforming head of Australian football who would likely have perceived Sherman as a kindred spirit.
Sherman delivered a technical report to FFA last year on instituting a youth development program which depended heavily on the support of the state federations and the A-League clubs beefing up their academies.
But the man who helped nurture Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey in his previous role at the Welsh FA, became increasingly frustrated that his vision wasn’t shared by some of the game’s key stakeholders.
Sherman will depart Australia in June, with a source close to FFA telling The World Game: “Rob was seeking traction for change and it was a big job that he undertook.
“He was struggling to get endorsement from some of the stakeholders on his plans around player pathways, the curriculum and coach education.
“He was also trying to work with the clubs on their academy setups and felt he wasn’t making the progress he wanted.”
It’s understood Sherman was facing opposition from Football Victoria over his plans for academy players from A-League clubs to have more exposure in the NPL, where some existing teams were concerned over the impact that might have on their place in the pecking order.
Sherman’s was also hamstrung by the absence of a national teams manager to lighten the work load, following the departure late last year of Luke Casserly.
“He’s faced a difficult task in dealing the politics of federations and clubs and all the underpinning layers,” added the source.
“The frustration of working within a system of so many elements - from the structure of the federations to the A-League clubs has clearly been difficult.
“He should have been able to introduce a system and program that would be accepted by all.
“His predecessor Eric Abrams failed to get traction as well. Rob just wasn’t able to achieve what he wanted and has decided to move on.”
Sherman told The World Game last year: “If our clubs are prepared to invest in youth development (through their academy systems) then we need to do everything possible as a game to help them make the best of that investment.
“My perspective hasn’t changed since I took the role on - youth development is the biggest priority.
“Things have fallen behind and there’s a real need to address that. Unless urgent and immediate action is taken we won’t be able to reverse the decline.
“We need to get everybody going the same direction. That’s possibly the biggest challenge.”
The World Game sought comment from Sherman and the FFA on Thursday.