FFA Backed Into A Corner

December 29, 2014 at 10:17 am 6 comments

Credit must go to Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe and his players for keeping their minds focussed on their game after what proved to be a very tough week in the lead up to games over the Christmas period.

The club was accused of breaches of the salary cap by the Sydney Morning Herald. Yet the players responded the only way they could by continuing their unbeaten run with a 4-1 win at home against Central Coast Mariners and a 1-1 draw against Melbourne City.

To many the accusations did not come as a great surprise. Neither did Chairman Tony Sage’s response that the accusations were “bullshit” according to the Sunday Times.

What was interesting following the proceedings was that initially the head of the A-League Damien de Bohun told The World Game that there was nothing to worry about on December 15th. He was quoted as saying in relation to Michael Thwaite and Nebojsa Marinkovic being upgraded to marquee players “Dates, in terms of when contracts are lodged with us, the reality is that it’s a dynamic environment,” he said. “Different players are signed up before the season starts, some contracts carry over and in the january transfer window, some players go and new players come in.” A very Political response.

Yet the FFA Player regulations state quite clearly under section 7.23 “A Club cannot 1. (a)  change the status of a Player on the Player Roster;”

However more telling is section 7.18 which reads “A Club must apply to FFA for approval of a prospective Marquee Player, Homegrown Player, Guest Player, Replacement Player or Contracted NYL Player using the relevant Prescribed Form before it concludes any contractual negotiations with such prospective Marquee Player, Homegrown Player, Guest Player, Replacement Player or Contracted NYL Player.” The key phrase being, “before it concludes any contractual negotiations.”

Interestingly two days after that initial story, the same Damien de Bohun who said there was nothing to worry about, advised the Sydney Morning Herald “FFA has noted the allegations raised about Perth Glory and we’ve spoken to the club today. FFA is looking into these matters in line with the usual salary cap compliance practices.” Why the sudden change? Are these the actions of an organisation or a man in control of the competition he runs?

Word is on the 18th while the club was trying to appease the media and douse down the flames, coach Kenny Lowe was behind closed doors with CEO Jason Brewer trying to work a way out of the situation the club found itself in.

According to The World Game, and confirmed by the FFA, Perth Glory had the change in status to the two aforementioned players approved on October 22, two games into the regular season. A decision that goes against the tournament’s own competition rules. How can this possibly happen many fans of other clubs will be asking?

The answer is simple, the Football Federation of Australia cannot afford for Perth Glory owner Tony Sage to walk away while they already have two A-League clubs perilously close to collapse, Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets. At present their focus is keeping these two clubs afloat and maintaining a ten team competition.

It was easier to allow Perth Glory to change the status of these two players, – who are questionable in terms of marquee player status – than to fine the club or deduct points. Perth Glory has been desperate for success, and as much as they will try and deny it the A-league needs Adelaide United and Perth Glory to be contenders. Every club in the A-League has been looking at ways to circumnavigate the salary cap, Perth Glory is not alone in that. If true, one can understand the leadership at the club feeling that it was time to go for broke, and that the FFA was in its weakest position to punish the club for fear of the ultimate consequences, the owner walking away.

The biggest question all this  raises is should the salary cap now be discarded? Did it really make for an even competition? Seven of the nine Championships have gone to three clubs. Only Sydney FC of those three clubs have won a Championship without winning the Premiership, while Central Coast have won two Premierships and one Grand Final. Three teams have won six of the nine Premierships.

It will be interesting to see how the FFA react should they find irregularities, will or rather can the A-League afford for David Gallop to take such strong action as he did with Melbourne Storm when head of the NRL? Will Glory escape with just a fine if found guilty or will they lose points as well, as Terry Butcher’s Sydney did; the coach punished for the crimes of his predecessors. We will all have to wait and see, one thing is for sure this is one storm the FFA could do without at the current time.

In the meantime Kenny Lowe and his team can just keep on doing what they have been doing so well all season, winning games!


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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stephen  |  December 29, 2014 at 10:43 am

    It may not be best for the A-League but it would be best for Perth Glory if Tony Sage did walk away. He has tarnished the name of the club and it is time he went.

    If the club has rorted the system – and the reports made it sound like they have – they should be duly punished. It is great the team are top of the league but more than a few of us wondered how they managed to assemble such a squad when previous coaches have struggled to lure players across the country, and that was with some rumoured “outside payments.” It would come as no surprise if they did try to cheat the system as Mr Sage’s ego has always been far more important than the club.

    • 2. Ryan  |  December 29, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      They rorted the system for 3 (or is it 4?) seasons and yet only now are on top of the table just highlights the ineptitude and cluelessness that is the current Glory administration, so I agree with Stephen.

  • 3. Eamon2  |  December 29, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Ashley maybe they are going to go easy (if they do) because probably all the other clubs are doing similar, but they have not got an ex employee who probably was right into the activity being investigated that has dobbed on them. If they do Glory I hope they are will to investigate all the other A-League clubs to the same extent.

  • 4. Not The Footy Show  |  December 29, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Guys thanks for your comments.

    Eamon I mentioned in the article that every club in the country is trying to get around the rules. but that does not make it right.

    The team that I support in England, Swindon Town tried to do a similar thing in the early 1990’s and lost their promotion to the First Division for the first time in the club’s history when found guilty of payment irregularities, and were relegated two divisions, one of which was reinstated on appeal.

    Tottenham Hotspur did the same thing, but on a larger scale, they were fined and deducted points which they won back on appeal. Fair? Not really but both clubs paid the price for getting caught. Sure other clubs were doing it, but they were disguising it in their books.

    Swindon’s accountant and Chairman both went to prison. Alan Sugar and Tottenham’s accountant did not.

    If as is alleged Perth Glory had Robbie Fowler sharing a house with Steve McGarry then that is sheer stupidity on their part. If they had a players residential address as the club’s office then that too is stupid.

    It matters not who “dobbed on them.” In my opinion that is irrelevant.
    At Swindon it was an employee who went to the English FA.

    The sad thing is the only people who suffer in the end are the fans. Most of the players moved on to First Division/Premier League clubs. The fans were the ones who were punished and they did nothing wrong.

    If Glory are found guilty who ever signed off on the accounts should be banned from the game, so too should whoever did the books. The CEO or CEO’s must be held accountable as that is why they are the top man, and if in an investigation the coach is found to be involved too, he must face the consequences. However we all know that frequently the owner negotiates deals the coach knows very little about.

    An interesting question which was raised today as the club announced record membership, is if the club are found guilty of breaking the salary cap and punished would those fans who bough memberships be entitled to refunds, as they have been duped? I do not know the answer to that one.

    Finally my biggest concern is that those running the A-League are so inept and appear to not have their finger remotely close to the pulse. These situations would never arise, if the FFA were running the competition properly.

  • 5. All White  |  December 29, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    As usual a well written piece. Could not agree more with your comment to Eamon. It does not matter if all the clubs are doing it, if you get caught you must face the music. What sort of a defence is that?

    Glory had a cosy relationship with 6PR when a board member was working there and the club had a different CEO and word is this was mutually beneficial.

    As you say if Glory were that stupid to put Robbie Fowler sharing a house and someone living in the club offices they deserve to get caught and those who signed off on the accounts banned. It is incomprehensible that they thought they could get away with it. It is as you say terrifying that the FFA did not pick up on this. But then again are we surprised? Damien de Bohun is a lightweight and has done nothing but strut around the country. He needs t move on and we need a man to run the A-League who is not seen, but has control of everything that is happening. It appears de Bohun’s ego is bigger than his ability to do the job.

    I have to agree with Ryan and Stephen if Tony Sage has done this to the fans who have stayed loyal to the club he should walk away. Or the fans should send a clear message to the owner and boycott the next home game.

    • 6. Ryan  |  December 30, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      Unfortunately it is those same fans that Sage (or his CEO) is doing this too that are the ones most vigorously defending him and the actions of the club.


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