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Feb 19, 2012

Bleiberg quits as Gold Coast coach

Miron Bleiberg has quit as Gold Coast United coach within hours of owner Clive Palmer being condemned by soccer chiefs for labelling the A-League a joke.

Bleiberg resigned amid a bitter fall-out with Palmer, the billionaire owner and chairman of the last-placed club.

"I'll not be back," Bleiberg told The Courier-Mail newspaper.

"Clive can take my job but he took away my dignity - no one can take away my dignity.

"If Clive wanted to hurt me, he succeeded. If he didn't mean to hurt me, he made a mistake."

Palmer sensationally suspended Bleiberg last week for one match, after the coach described the appointment of 17-year-old rookie Mitch Cooper as captain as ceremonial.

Assistant coach Mike Mulvey, who took the reins for Gold Coast's 1-0 loss to Melbourne Heart on Friday night, is expected to take over as coach.

Earlier Sunday on another dramatic day for the A-League cellar dwellers, Palmer was criticised by Football Federation Australia (FFA) for describing the A-League as a "joke" and his club as "insignificant".

In an extraordinary spray, Palmer derided soccer as a "hopeless game" and dared the 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."

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

Melbourne Heart remain fifth and Sydney FC leapt into the top six with a 2-1 away victory over Adelaide United on Sunday night.

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