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FFA's governance meeting: The state of play

Goal.com logo Goal.com 16-03-2017

Football Federation Australia (FFA) will sit down with A-League club owners, state associations and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) on Friday at a meeting that could have lasting ramifications for Australian football.

FFA needs to set a date for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) by March 31 to meet FIFA's deadline for governance reform and the expansion of its congress.

FIFA, AFC to put pressure on FFA

The congress, which currently includes 10 voters - the lowest of any FIFA member, elects FFA's board.

Under the current set-up, the nine state and territory associations each have one vote, while the 10 A-League clubs have one vote between them.

FFA has separately met with the three stakeholder groups - the state associations, A-League club owners and PFA - over the past six weeks.

FFA push back governance reform meeting again

It is understood FFA will use Friday's meeting in Sydney to gauge support for its governance reform plan.

FFA has rescheduled the meeting twice, claiming certain stakeholders would be unable to attend the previous two dates but Goal understands that has been a stalling tactic by chairman Steven Lowy and CEO David Gallop to gather more support.

Ahead of a meeting that could change the landscape of Australian football, Goal takes a look at the key players and their priorities.

Football Federation Australia

The national governing body has had a tough 2017, with its reported desire to delay expanding its congress rejected by FIFA in February.

FFA has also claimed it cannot afford to expand the A-League - much to the frustration of fans - under the competition's current ownership and operational model.

New A-League model before expansion says FFA

Things appeared more rosy for Lowy and Gallop when they announced a $346million broadcast deal for the A-League late last year, but the Herald Sun has reported that due to consultancy fees, contra deals and bonuses, the true figure may be up to $80m lower.

FFA wants to expand its congress as little as possible - the more voters there are, the less power Lowy and Co. will wield - but with both the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA tracking progress, it seems the national governing body is under pressure from all sides.

The unopposed election of Lowy to replace his father Frank as chairman in 2015 is understood to have prompted the AFC and FIFA to investigate FFA's governance.

A-League clubs

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Arguably FFA's most vocal critics are the owners of the 10 A-League clubs, who are pushing for a greater say in the running of the game, more money and - possibly - independence from the national governing body altogether.

Having formed the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (APFCA) in November, the club chairmen have appeared relatively united over the past few months.

It is hard to believe, however, that the priorities of smaller clubs like Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix are completely in line with Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, for example.

A-League clubs demand more power

Representatives of Sydney, Melbourne City, Western Sydney Wanderers, Adelaide United and Perth Glory all attended a gala event in early February when Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro outlined the APFCA's goals.

The APFCA wants a say on A-League expansion, a significant bloc of seats in FFA's congress and for all money raised by Australia's professional competition to be reinvested with the clubs.

State and territory associations

In order to pass any governance reform, FFA needs a 75 per cent majority - or eight - of the 10 current congress members to support its proposal.

With nine of those 10 votes being held by the member federations, this is where the balance of power lies.

FFA committed to reform says Lowy

In the past, the state and territory associations have generally seemed unwilling to rock the boat, but Football Federation Victoria (FFV) and Football NSW (FNSW) are expected to stand with the APFCA on Friday, leaving FFA one vote short.

FFA has been frenetically lobbying behind the scenes over the past couple of weeks - some of the deals rumoured to be on offer are staggering - while there is a belief in Victoria that the timing of reports regarding alleged FFV misconduct are a little too convenient.

With FFV and FNSW - at least - not prepared to back FFA unconditionally, the push for genuine change appears to be gathering momentum.

Professional Footballers Australia

The players' union will not have a vote at FFA's yet-to-be-scheduled EGM but PFA has been involved in the national governing body's consultation process since the beginning and will attend Friday's meeting.

This is partly due to the expectation PFA is a frontrunner to be enfranchised in an expanded congress but also due to its position as a key lobby group.

FFA has had enough experience of PFA's power in previous negotiations over players' rights and collective bargaining agreements that it appears Lowy and Gallop were keen to keep the union - led by John Didulica - onside.

FFA withdraws PFA recognition

This will not necessarily benefit FFA in the long run, however, as PFA is understood to be supportive of the A-League-FFV-FNSW bloc.

Women's football is one of PFA's main priorities, while the union is always interested in increasing the number of professional opportunities for players, meaning it is likely to support A-League expansion and the formation of a national second division.

National Premier Leagues clubs

The absolute wildcard that FFA has yet to formally include in its consultation process is the newly formed Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) that represents clubs below the A-League.

While it remains to be seen whether the AAFC has timed its run too late to gain a seat on FFA's congress, the publicity the NPL clubs' representative body has generated since an exploratory meeting on March 6 has been extraordinary.

NPL clubs tell FFA: We want a vote!

The AAFC will hold its first official meeting on Monday and has claimed both the AFC and FIFA support its bid to be included in FFA's expanded congress, while the group also want to establish a national second tier below the A-League.

There has been criticism this week that AAFC members are already represented in the congress via the state and territory associations, with the boards of member federations elected by representatives of zones within each region.

While these zone representatives can be affiliated with NPL clubs, to insinuate that the priorities of state associations and second-tier clubs are identical is misleading.

More: AFC tracking NPL clubs' progress with FFA | FFA considering A-League restructure | FFA release reform timeline | Groundhog Day at FFA as Australian football stagnates

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