Thursday, April 13, 2006

Speculation on future of Australia football leaders

There is media speculation of the future of Football Federation Australia's top two leaders. While Frank Lowy (pictured left), Australia's second richest man, said on the eve of the A-League grand final that he would stay on as FFA president for the another four years, Chief Executive John O'Neill is into the final nine months of a three-year contract and has not heard from Lowy about whether his term will be extended. "Lowy, of late, has acted more like an executive president, rather than a ceremonial one, raising the question of whether he will assume this role when O'Neill's term expires after the World Cup," commented sports writer Roy Masters in The Age.

"The status of president is all that counts in the corridors of FIFA, the organisation that runs the world's most popular sport. O'Neill would prefer the position of FFA executive president but if his term is not renewed, it's a role he would consider at the Australian Rugby Union, his former employer ...

"O'Neill (pictured right) has overseen the successful push into Asia, the renaming of the brand, launching the A-League and, of course, secured Hiddink to lead Australia to Germany. He is also renegotiating the Foxtel TV contract that could allow all A-League clubs to break square. But this does not deliver indispensability. FFA will hold elections in November for the first time since the federal government-initiated Crawford Report in 2003 demanded reform in the sport in exchange for a $15 million aid package," Masters wrote.

According to Masters, one A-league team co-owner ridiculed the idea of busy Lowy, boss of the international Westfield property group, taking a hands-on role, saying: "putting Frank in charge of FFA would be like asking Rupert Murdoch to run the National Rugby League."

FFA director and also Chairman of the Fairfax newspaper group, Ron Walker, made it clear Lowy was "the man" although he described O'Neill as "a first-class operator". He told Masters: "As long as Frank Lowy is there, I'm there. He's more than chairman of the board, he's boss. The way he's going, particularly his relationships with (FIFA boss) Sepp Blatter, we'll have a World Cup in Australia before we're in wheelchairs."

No comments: