Talks fail but FIFA intervention 'not inevitable', says federation boss

Football Federation Australia chairman Steven Lowy Source: Getty Images

A state football federation chief has claimed a deal can still be forged to prevent a looming FIFA takeover of Australian football governance, despite last-ditch talks between the game's stakeholders ending in stalemate.

A six-hour meeting in Melbourne on Thursday between four of the nine federation chiefs, Players Football Association (PFA) officials and three representatives from the 10 A-League clubs couldn't agree on the make-up of a democratised congress in the latest damaging chapter of the soap opera surrounding the governance of the sport.

With Football Federation Australia (FFA) chairman Steven Lowy issuing an ultimatum for an agreement prior to departing Australia on Westfield Group business on Friday, the prospect of FIFA stepping in to replace the existing board with an interim normalisation committee is looking likely.

However, the state federation boss, who didn't want to be identified, insisted an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) next month between the existing power brokers could still be held to stave off the scorched earth approach of FIFA intervention before its November 30 deadline.

The states are sticking to their demands of an expanded congress of 9-4-1-1 - which is a 50 per cent increase on the current format but still maintains their majority stake in electing FFA board members. 

It would give three more votes to the clubs, one to the PFA and one to women's football.

The clubs and PFA are refusing to budge on a 9-5-1-1 model, with the extra vote to go to the clubs.

As the intractable impasse rages on, it's understood that FIFA officials have already made travel plans to Australia to begin building from ground zero and at least one highly credentialed Australian is already being courted as a successor to Lowy.

But the federation boss said: "We negotiated in good faith but and just couldn't get 9-4-1-1 across the line.

"Now we just have to push on and get notices out there for an EGM. Notice periods are normally 30 days but members can agree on shorter periods.

"I think people recognise that we tried pretty hard to get consensus but it's not always possible."

Despite the breakdown in talks, the federation boss made it clear that FIFA intervention isn't necessarily a fait accompli.

"I don't think it's inevitable that FIFA will step in.

"We just need to put the resolution forward to change the structure of the congress and get FIFA's buy-in.

"We don't need the A-League to carry the votes.

"I don't think FIFA want to come here unless they absolutely have to. There would probably be uproar if they did.

"I think we've done everything in our power to get the clubs behind us and just weren't able to manage that."

Despite misgivings from the clubs, who believe the federations are in the thrall of Lowy, the source insisted that was not the case.

"We could have gone straight to an EGM and have bypassed this one last opportunity at consensus," he said.

"But we wanted to show that we were serious In getting an agreement that suited all parties. But it wasn't to be."