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Feb 19, 2012

Palmer condemned by A-League chief

Controversial Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer has been condemned by soccer chiefs for labelling the A-League a joke and his club as "insignificant".

In an extraordinary spray, Palmer derided soccer as a "hopeless game" and dared Football Federation Australia (FFA) to strip him of Gold Coast's licence.

"If we wanted to stay and they (FFA) wanted to take it off us, they'd all be in court, and (FFA chief executive) Ben Buckley would run a thousand miles," Palmer told Brisbane's Sunday Mail.

"That's the reality of it.

"They can say what they like ... the A-League's a joke.

"I don't think I'll ever talk to Ben again in my life, to be honest."

Buckley described Palmer's comments as offensive.

"Football fans across Australia will today rightfully condemn the lack of respect inherent in comments made by Clive Palmer," Buckley said in a statement.

"The comments are offensive to the players, coaches, administrators and volunteers who are the life and soul of Australian football.

"We welcomed Clive into the game and lauded his investment, but no matter how frustrated Clive may feel about his involvement, these comments are out of order.

"I remind Clive that as a chairman and owner of a club, he has obligations to the competition, his fellow club chairman and investors in the other nine clubs, and to the game itself."

Palmer's outburst came just days after he sensationally suspended Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg for saying the appointment of 17-year-old rookie Mitch Cooper as captain was ceremonial.

"I don't even like the game, I think it's a hopeless game," Palmer said.

Palmer, who is Queensland's richest man, said Gold Coast United was a "very small, insignificant portion of what I do".

The unseemly spat overshadowed on-field results, highlighted by Perth Glory joining pacesetters Central Coast Mariners and Brisbane Roar in the top three.

Perth outclassed Newcastle United 2-0 to rise to third, and they meet second-placed Brisbane this Saturday night.

The Mariners kept their five-point buffer at the top of the table with a clinical 2-0 triumph over Wellington Phoenix, who remain fourth with 33 points.

Melbourne Heart's 1-0 win over last-placed Gold Coast took them to 30 points and fifth spot ahead of Newcastle (28 points), who rounded out the top six before Sunday night's clash between Adelaide United and Sydney.

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