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Feb 20, 2012

Gold Coast United sack coach

Sacking a coach was the least of Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer's priorities on Monday after his latest tirade prompted an ominous warning from Football Federation Australia (FFA).

Coach Miron Bleiberg's axing became a bizarre sub-plot as Palmer attempted to explain why he called soccer "a hopeless sport" and his club "insignificant".

The billionaire claimed his comments in a weekend newspaper report were aimed at how the A-League was governed.

"What I was saying ... was taken out of context because I have no confidence with its administration," he told ABC Radio on Monday.

"As far as the game itself, I think it's a great game - I do support it.

"I'm not happy about the fact that the top five executives in the FFA are paid in excess of $5 million but at the same time we're going cap in hand to the federal government asking for $8 million and it was granted to them to support the league."

Palmer added he would "never" sell the club, the FFA could not take his licence away "legally" and that United's future depended merely on the health of the competition.

But Buckley had other ideas, saying he would discuss the club's future with Palmer at the end of the season.

"There would be no Gold Coast United without his commitment to the team," Buckley said on Monday.

"But I guess some of the comments over the weekend mean that we have to evaluate the future of the Gold Coast United team.

"There's players who play for the club, there's coaches, there's administrators.

"We need to make sure all of those factors are taken into account before we rush to decisions."

There are two years left on Palmer's United licence.

But when asked if the FFA had grounds to take it away, Buckley said: "All clubs have to make commitments and they have certain obligations.

"And if they breach those commitments and obligations we have rights to take issue with those breaches - but let's not rush to any particular decision."

The latest round in the Palmer-Buckley battle capped yet another extraordinary day for United.

Foundation coach Bleiberg was sacked - after saying he had resigned - in the fallout over Palmer's appointment of teenage rookie Mitch Cooper as stand-in captain.

Initially Bleiberg was suspended for one game after Palmer took offence to the coach describing Cooper's appointment as "only ceremonial".

Bleiberg said in newspaper reports on Monday that he would not return - prompting the club to call a press conference to claim he was axed.

"No resignation letter was received by the club but given comments made in the media over recent days the club have dismissed Miron from his position as head coach effective immediately," United CEO Clive Mensink said.

Assistant Mike Mulvey will take over as coach for the remaining six games of the season.

"We are not here to tarnish Miron's reputation at all," Mensink said.

"We have appreciated what he has done for the club.

"At the end of the day it shouldn't have been handled in the media but that's my opinion.

"We move on."

The sacking completed a remarkable fallout between the owner and Bleiberg who once claimed he had a "contract for life" with Palmer.

Mensink was confident of United's future, describing the recent debacle as a "disruption".

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