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The battle of Australian Soccer’s future moves west.

Posted by cegan on October 7, 2017

Australian Soccer went through a tumultuous Saturday as eight Western Australian NPL club’s sent through an ultimatum to Football West that they sought permission to operate a new league.

Western Australia is on the brink of a rebel league, which has been in the planning stages for a few years. The warfare in Australian Soccer could deliver an autonomous A-League and National Second Division with the State Federations sidelined.

It led to internal discussions within Football West on how it would handle these club’s who are preparing to leave the National Premier League . These clubs are part of AAFC, however have had long-standing concerns with Football West governance.

On Friday a Director from one NPL club in Perth confirmed that they were seeking permission to be part of a National Second Division.

By late Saturday Night, I was informed that Football West are now giving concessions to the ‘group of eight’ to stop them from leaving the NPL. Whether or not it is too late, remains to be seen.

Agreements have already been signed, but in this war, you never know what could happen next.

By Chris Egan

 

 

 

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The blame game starts

Posted by cegan on October 5, 2017

After the revelations I revealed on Sunday about A-League club’s having pushed the nuclear button of FIFA intervention, they have been quick to start to blame the State Federations for the congress being spilt.

The congress is only being spilt because the owner’s of the A-League club’s got FIFA involved. The congress being spilt has resulted in a repeat of the massive brawls of Australian Soccer’s past.

The article by David Lewis on the world game website was suggesting that A-League clubs were pressurising the State Federations to abandon the 9-4-1-1 model.

This model had been agreed upon at the fateful Wednesday meeting.

My sources from State Federations suggest at this meeting State Federations and A-League clubs passed a no-confidence motion in Steve Lowy due to a lack of trust. It had broad agreement at this meeting for 9-4-1-1.

In the world of A-League club’s who have businessman out for a profit, rather than the best interest of the game, they are now blaming everyone else for not getting the deal.

This is playing with the truth. It was A-League club’s who instead of acting in good faith negotiations with the FFA, pressed the nuclear button by going to FIFA and asking them to spill the board. The V8 model was being negotiated to increase equity for the FFA , while providing increased power for A-League owners.

The reason for this mess is because Soccer put power-games ahead of negotiating a deal in good faith. A hallmark of the games history in this country.

Some have labelled A-League club’s brave to take on Lowy?

Lowy isn’t some kind of autocratic wielding beast that people are too scared to challenge.  Recently, I spoke to one of his friends and he acknowledged that Steven Lowy is self-aware that he has made mistakes in his role.

In one quote his friend says

“Steven Lowy loves going into the change rooms and feeling the sweat. He breathes the game”

Unfortunately we see little of this passion in public.

Lowy is staying in power because he is scared, like his father of the return of the NSL. This is not a reason for him to stay in power. He must resign.

The damage is being exacerbated the longer everyone within the game takes no accountability for the warfare. The blame game is easy for everyone to take when they have individual ego’s and self-interest on the line.

A-League club’s must not be seen as saints in this process. State Federations should continue to maintain pressure on a model that gives many of these businessman who invest for their own profits/egos unprecedented power over Australian Football.

End the blame game and begin to negotiate in good faith.

By Chris Egan

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The game must come first

Posted by cegan on October 2, 2017

The revelations that A-League clubs had been given concessions by Football Federation Australia to buy part of the league at the same time a letter was sent on behalf of the A-League club’s to FIFA to spill the congress showcases how trust is non existent within the game.

A-League clubs decided that FIFA was a better arbitrator than the men, women and children of Australia.

This is  FIFA that put our game back fifteen years with the disastrous FIFA World Cup bid.  Not only did this cost a lot of money, it was a public relations disaster.

Why did FIFA not tell Football Federation Australia that we were never going to win the World Cup? Do they understand the ongoing damage the game is suffering because of that bid? Are they feeling any culpability in the financial crisis that is wreaking havoc on Australian Football?

All of these questions must be asked if FIFA come and run the game here. We must not cower up based on self-interest.

How have we not been able to build a consensus with all stakeholders within the game?

A lack of trust is the main culprit.

The culture of Australian Soccer is a real life version of the Sopranos – minus the guns.

We also have a weak leader who is not able to enshrine confidence that he has an appropriate vision for the world game in Australia.

Steven Lowy has lost the confidence of all stakeholders, including the fans.

He must resign.

Australian Soccer now goes into a waiting period. Waiting for FIFA, a less than reputable organisation to sort out the webs and division created from a spilled congress.

Many are blaming member federations outside of Victoria and New South Wales for the prolonged debates and arguments regarding the future makeup of the FFA congress.

I am not.

It is a real concern for other states, particularly Western Australia and Queensland if their A-League clubs Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar respectfully gain increased power over the game in their states.

For Liam Twigger who has had a long association in the game, he would remember the world of soccer when New South Wales, Victoria and the NSL clubs allied together to stop a WA NSL side.

The world was dictated to from the powerbrokers in the east. There was no interest in national representation.

In my view similar outcomes are very likely if reform doesn’t look at addressing this issue.

The policy platform that NSW and Victoria Federations are negotiating with A-League clubs and their fellow Member Federations has to have the past in mind.

Rather than antagonising and shaming fellow federations, negotiate in good faith.

What are the real and pertinent issues if NSW and VIC State Federations get the reforms that suit their agenda to have more power within the game?

Why do the other federations not trust the two biggest states?

Once you have these conversations, than work out a model that brings people together and starts to build a trust that is currently non-existent.

It has to show via a working solution that it can be trusted. Word’s are not enough in this game.

I do believe Victoria, New South Wales and the A-League clubs can do more to ensure the concerns of the other federations are taken into account regarding a future congress.

It is time to put those five year old kids that play out on the fields of Liverpool as the priority. Not the profits and egos of those currently enjoying the warfare.

Stand up and be the role models the Soccer community expect you to be.

By Chris Egan

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The Feds answer my question a few days later…

Posted by cegan on September 27, 2017

The Federal Government will withdraw four million dollars for the Women’s World Cup bid if stakeholders don’t agree on a new congress by Friday is, if the article is to be believed the first intervention of sorts by the Federal Government into the bitter warfare that has developed around the Congress.

So the Federal Government do care about their legacy from 2005 and the people that they helped put in place to run the game. Good to know that they have some real interest in our game.

Are they prepared to actually withdraw the four million dollars?

Because if the Federal Government thinks that the Women’s World Cup bid is going to sort out a congress issue where A-League clubs, Association bodies and NPL clubs see this as the ‘final battle’ than they must be prepared to withdraw the funding.

As the battle lines currently stand, I can’t see the main operators in this battle worrying about the Women’s World Cup bid and whether there is a public relations backlash.

There is too much dis-trust, hate and paranoia.

Throwing a line to bitter combatants on Monday,  which was off the cuff that they had to decide on the Congress makeup by Friday was never going to end well. It hasn’t, stakeholders from one state federation said to me “Lowy hasn’t read the room”.

Accordingly, FIFA are expecting all parties to work together to develop the right congress.

It might need to incorporate a few neutral observer seats to be put on the congress to ensure that the Chairman doesn’t have unfettered rights. A compromise deal could aim to weaken the power of both the FFA and the A-League/State Federations.

A few ex High Court Judges who have limited connections to the world game could be elected onto congress to balance competing interests of the various parties.

By Chris Egan

 

 

 

 

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Transparency must come to Australian Soccer

Posted by cegan on September 27, 2017

Transparency is a missing cog within the game in Australia. Being transparent, honest and without a hidden agenda does no favours within the world game in this country. People accuse me of having many agendas, when they meet me they realise its just a load of crap. The agenda’s I do have are public and everyone who meets me get’s an honest and authentic response to the question.

The people I get on best with are those who I can trust and have strong levels of debates on the issues that prevail within the game. We respect each other’s rights to disagree.

At every level though this is supposed to be hidden behind closed doors. Games and agendas are played from all the major players – nobody is a saint when it comes to underhand actions . My view is that it is not sustainable for our competition to engage itself in this hidden warfare where the cards that are dealt are done in secret, away from the scrutiny of the general public.

The inability to speak honestly and truthfully to clubs, boards and in many ways other fans becomes a hallmark of our game.

It forces less than ideal results, where our game is handled by a few power brokers within the game. Often living in Sydney, they are the vote counters, handlers of the wheeling and dealing. They prefer that the actions that go on in Australian Soccer stays behind closed doors.

The past week I have opened the lid on much of the antics of the game that we all love so much. It will most likely not give me any extra christmas cards from the stakeholders in the game, but the authenticity of my voice is something I have not traded for self interest.

The game needs more people prepared to challenge the acceptance of the murky waters of the game. Most job’s within Australian Soccer are created through this murky world that comes from aligning yourself with a particular person or group that may give you advantages in return from losing much of your own authenticity.

While we have moved from the NSL to the A-League, the murkiness and allied based system has not changed. Voices in the game are skewed by the links to the power brokers that run the whole messy system. For those who choose to challenge this system, the costs are not seen by the everyday punter, but they are real.

I could easily have muted my opinions which would have caused far less pain and have way more friends within the game. However, the purity of my voice is too important for me to lose for any self-interest I may have had in conforming to the reality of Australian Soccer.

By Chris Egan

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In a time of crisis, Australian Soccer’s history changes forever

Posted by cegan on September 26, 2017

It’s been an under-researched area of Australian Soccer History, but an important one for the timeless reality of soccer in crisis in this country. As FIFA spilled the congress votes a few months ago, it created mayhem across the country, from boards in Brisbane to the terraces of Knights Stadium. The battle for the future is on, this crisis will shape our next era.

As a Glory fan, I have been researching extensively our history for the past six years.  John Constantine resigning in February 1995 on allegations of corruption created the chairmanship election of April 1995 where Peter Gray, Jack Reilly, Ian Brusasco and David Hill stood. David Hill won, and he went on to deliver the National Soccer League in a less ethnic version. During the ‘horse-trading’ stage there was an agreement done that ensured Glory would enter the league on its terms.

The lessons from this research is that ‘deals’ are made within Australian soccer that will benefit a particular lobby group that has access to votes that are needed in order to win power for that particular candidate/group. When the AAFC/A-League clubs are speaking to the Victorian Football Federation/New South Wales Football Federation about a new national league, they will be speaking in terms of ‘what is in it for me’. Why should I as the VIC/NSW Board align my vote and power to set up a second division within the country? It will be up to AAFC/A-League clubs to make the argument to secure power/alliances.

There will be votes that will be secured or already have been secured in return for the passing of a particular element that a group is wanting to implement within Australian soccer.

We can also summarise how current negotiations are falling down for our friend at the FFA Steven Lowy.

As the FFA rid themselves of the past in 2005 and created Year Zero they also rid themselves of the ability to handle crisis and learn from these events that re-shape the football landscape. When Steven Lowy is going into negotiations with men who have been part of these events for decades, he is looking like an amateur.

He is being thrown to the carpet with these seasoned Football professionals and it will deliver the FFA very little wiggle room in the final reality of how the game in this country is set up from 2018 and beyond.

While we could continue on the shambles of the FFA, I wanted to deliver transparency on how these discussions would be working to the few readers of my blog. In discussions between State Federations and A-League clubs there would be deals being done in terms of arrangements that will occur when the numbers are sorted out and won.

What do readers need to know to summarise how our game’s history changes during a crisis?

One – When the board is spilled, the entire, I mean entire Football community goes crazy to win as much new power as they can. The board that is currently in place also goes crazy trying to retain this power and will offer anything and everything.

Two – In this process deals are done that change our game in many ways that we don’t know the impact until further down the line. Often it is not done for the benefit of the entire country, but where the power lies in the wash up of a spilled board.

Three – It is why nobody wants a board to be spilled or threatened to be spilled in Australian Soccer. The situation turns into quite literally a wild goose chase.

At this point in time the game in this country is going through its revolution because FIFA decided that our congress needed to be more representative. In 2002-04 the Labbozzetta regime did everything possible to retain power and it created chaos for the National Soccer League.

Our new overlords will do everything they can to retain power, but with a baying mob who can smell the scent of victory.

By Chris Egan

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The battle of Australian football, brings regional tensions to the surface.

Posted by cegan on September 25, 2017

The report from AAP on Monday Night that Steven Lowy has sought to settle the crisis of the Congress by the end of the week is the first action taken to stifle the FFA’s bitter combatants. The battle-lines of this war have just been re-drawn, with Lowy putting pressure on his combatants to settle quickly.

Unilaterally media coverage across the country is seeing a combined State Association backing of the FFA. It seems a comfy analogue to describe that the FFA have allies across the state bodies. When talking about the congress of 9-4-1-1 and 9-5-1-1 we don’t go beyond the analysis of why there is such fierce debate going on within Australian Soccer.

It comes down to the Victoria and NSW State Federations.

A-League club’s in a 9-5-1-1 model would have the backing of Victoria and NSW State Federations on many issues. In this model, it would need only one or two extra votes to get reform that the Chairman did not agree with. The Victorian and New South Wales State Federations are not Lowy walk-overs like the other states and would be friendly allies.

On many different issues they could easily negotiate through changes via the two more out-spoken congress members at present to have unprecedented power against a much weakened Chairman Steven Lowy.

It is why there is so much heat on this extra A-League spot, if the clubs get what they want, they will have much more influence on the entire structure of Australian Football.

The FFA are in a bind though, broke and reliant on the smaller federations. Tensions between the larger states and David Gallop are at breaking point.

For the smaller federations they see the danger of Victoria/New South Wales controlling the Football world as they did during the NSL era. It will take a monumental shift of conviction for them to approve the State Federations of New South Wales and Victoria gaining increased power and prominence.

How do the AAFC fit into the puzzle?

This is the interesting question, the Victorian Federation have unofficial ties with the association and there is currently power games going on within Victoria and New South Wales on who runs a potential 2nd Division. Some NPL clubs believe that it should be them that runs it, others see roles for the NSW/Victorian Football Federations.

There is a myriad of voices, which is not uncommon in Australian Soccer.

The reason why the FFA are now in a rush to sort out the congress votes is because the AAFC clubs are in a bind of how the structure will be led and the Victorian/New South Wales State Associations do not really want to give up much of their power.

It is why sources coming to me are saying things like “Sydney Mafia” while the FFA General Manager of Competitions at Football Federation Australia Mal Impiombato are saying “Melbourne media” on twitter. It suits the agenda of FFA at this point to hasten, if not blatantly support the divisions into state lines.

The most federal of Australia’s games is breaking down into regional cliques as it has done time and time again. If the AAFC clubs want to have a FIFA sanctioned second division, it might have to come together quickly to ward off Steven Lowy’s haste in sorting out the congress votes as soon as possible. The best possibility of this happening is to keep the pressure on the 9-5-1-1 model rather than the one that keeps more power for Lowy that is 9-4-1-1.

The FFA’s rush is coming because they see the disorganisation and conflict in their opponents, not because of any desperate need to sort it out quickly.

By Chris Egan

 

 

 

 

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The fractures are deep and unpredictability reigns

Posted by cegan on September 25, 2017

Like all wars, the winning move has yet to be cast. Nobody is emboldened to make a wrong-step in such a precarious time. There is no one central character that unites the revolutionaries. Australian Soccer is in a massive mess.

Not since our last eruption in 2002 of the battle of the vision of Australian Soccer has the situation been so critical. How I read a very volatile situation is this.

If the AAFC and State Federations of New South Wales and Victoria can agree on parameters of a new competition, with the rivalry between the two states minimised they will be a strong power block to face against the other two groups – The FFA and A-League/Players Football Association. One source has told me that PFA are agnostic and will attach themselves to whoever wins the war – which most are saying is unpredictable.

If the FFA wins the version of the congress that they want, it will not spell the end of the revolutionaries wanting a change to the status quo. There are clubs in Western Australia who will jump ship immediately, spurred not by deep dissatisfaction with Football Federation Australia, but their local association Football West.

The mistake of clubs outside of Western Australia is to develop this competition only because of the internal issues of the Perth market that is in many ways very different to what has happened in the rest of Australia’s soccer history.

Moving to a rebel league is not really something out of the ordinary for WA clubs and they have always rapidly changed to survive over decades. They will form a rebel league eventually, with or without the AAFC. Unless Football West goes through an internal revolution that placates the heaving despair of the state of the game in this state.

It is history repeating in the west, despair in the past brought the development of Perth Glory. Western Australia will be critical for the development of a new league, regardless of whether it is FIFA sanctioned or not.

In the rest of the country there is very real possibilities of the game being split down the middle if FFA aren’t able to develop cordial relationships across the game to minimise the deep level of dis-trust and anger. Alignments with smaller state federations backing the Government supported FFA, while NSW/VIC Federations with many of the bigger WA clubs running a separate and most likely powerful league in competition.

What can change in the next month for this so called November 1st D Day?

  • The PFA announce they will back one group, this will hand either of the three groups more power and potentially get them over the line (as many say they have the critical votes on the board of congress)
  • The FFA who are financially strapped begin to meet all the demands from A-League/State League clubs through the bankrolling of Lowy and the power base he has created over the last twelve years from his fears of the past.
  • FIFA backs Lowy which goes against the expectations of the AAFC and A-League clubs. If this happens, see this as the beginning of a new normal. Where the A-League clubs realise they have no power at governing body level, while the second division/rebel league becomes a reality if the east coast clubs believe they can make it financially secure with the many WA clubs which are keen to enter.

What I don’t know is, when does the Federal Government get involved to ensure its friends and legacy is preserved? Will they make the right choice if they do get involved? Do they care? What is going on between clubs and politicians right now in the lobbying efforts?

My stake on this is that every move any group makes, put in their mind what a 5 year old kid just starting to play the game wants. Put his/her best interest at heart.

By Chris Egan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Financial Predicament of the FFA

Posted by cegan on September 21, 2017

After speaking to countless members of the football community in Australia the financial situation for the game is more serious than the FFA is letting on.

– They have little money to pay out FFA staff contracts, including if they wish to hire a new Socceroos coach. According to one source there is no money to pay out Ange Postecoglou’s contract.
– One State Association President commented at a recent meeting between State Associations and the FFA that the body was “one bad event away from insolvency”
– If the Socceroos do not make the World Cup, their budget is even weaker both in corporate payments and having already budgeted the income from this event.
– The failure to make the World Cup will be a financial predicament which will impact the provision of services across the game in Australia for the next four years with some suggesting there will be no money for international friendlies.

The A-League clubs have wanted the books to be opened up, if they had been, it would show an Association body that has not learned from the previous mistakes of Australian Football. In 2002 our game was crippled from former Soccer Australia Chairman Tony Labbozzetta overseeing a similar World Cup Qualification campaign where we aligned our four year expenditure with qualification.

Our wonderful world game could not cope and it provided the impetus for Federal Government money to help reform and create a financially prudent league.

In 2017 we face yet another disaster on our doorstep via Year Zero ideology which permeates FFA headquarters and has ensured we did not learn from the mistakes of the past.

Now a rebel league is on our doorsteps, with sources within the State Federation of Victoria in agreement that the NPL system is a failure.

If the FFA don’t quickly realise the poison chalice of the NPL, the National Second Division will be created – whether or not it is FIFA sanctioned. The governing body will be internationally ridiculed if there is a non-sanctioned FIFA league operating within our nation.

For NPL clubs across the country they now see no other choice, many see it as a life or death situation for their clubs. Clubs they love like their families.

This mess is destined to become even messier.

By Chris Egan

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Posted by cegan on November 9, 2016

Trump’s rise threatens neo-liberalism

America has changed overnight, one that is big spending, low taxing and protectionist. Obama started this trend with his election in 2008, Sanders increased the momentum during the Democrat Primary and Trump sealed the deal. The party of Reagan is dead.

It is a monumental global event which will shake politics globally, its impact will be hard to assess for a few years, but what is certain neo-liberal attitudes of markets have been shaken up. Trump’s rise is the defeat of the view of limited government and allowing the economy to run freely . What it is to be a Republican now has completely changed, maybe forever.

A party under Bush which had as its mantra liberty globally, is now about winning domestically. The fear in the media has become insane in the post-election coverage in Australia. It’s not Armageddon for the world, nor is it a great event for global prosperity, but the world will move on.

America may choose a protectionist president but it won’t stifle innovation because local regions will choose to disrupt regardless of national politics. Cities will gain greater power under new economic model and those who wish to live in progressive, leftist cities will be able to flock to these places with limited restrictions.
National governance in America is less relevant for folk who live in New York and San Francisco as they become more independent in outlook and policy making. Cities that seek to adapt to change will still survive under this model, just government will hold a helping hand for those forgotten in this change.

The mantra that government shouldn’t subsidise industries that are not economically viable has been defeated for the time being, whether it is longer lasting, time will tell. What is the future of Cost Benefit Analysis in Public Policy making?

For the old guard of the Republican Party, Margaret Thatcher and even John Howard they will see a monumental shift on the view that markets and business should be allowed to run free. This may be the destruction of current neo-liberal policy which started with the bombing of Allende in Chile in the 1970’s to today.

While the left is in shock, there has been little critical examination on areas where there has been a deep challenge for centre-right parties globally – their political philosophy may just have been defeated.

By Chris Egan

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