Football Federation Australia have terminated the A-League licence held by Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer.
A "disappointed" FFA chairman Frank Lowy on Wednesday said he had no alternative but to revoke the licence to protect the integrity of the competition following Palmer's "flagrant disregard" for A-League rules. The decision is set to spark a courtroom battle, with Palmer vowing to take legal action against the FFA.
"We intend to fight this ludicrous decision by incompetent FFA in the courts. Frank Lowy is an institution who now belongs in an institution," Palmer posted on his Twitter account.
The licence termination is a result of Palmer continuing to defy the FFA after the Gold Coast team were issued with a breach notice for contravening a direction not to use "Freedom of Speech" logos on Skilled Park signage and their players' jerseys last weekend.
Palmer, who had contracted only a few players for next season, has also been outspoken in his criticism of the A-League's administration and the code over the past fortnight.
Lowy said he wanted last-placed United to play out the final four rounds of the competition but indicated Sunday's match against the Phoenix in Wellington may have to be postponed. He said the FFA would explore all options, including paying the Gold Coast players to play out final month of season.
"The FFA will do everything possible within it's power to see the players see out the season on the pitch," he said.
Lowy, who previously described the Coast as a "spectacular failure" on Tuesday, described his emotions as "sadness and disappointment but it had to come this".
"We can't let anybody thumb their noses at us saying 'we're going to do what we want to do but I want to stay," he said.
FFA chief executive Ben Buckley said the club had told the governing body repeatedly it wanted to leave the competition at the end of the 2011-12 season, while at the same time making contradictory public statements. Buckley said the FFA had exhausted all attempts to organise an exit strategy with no assistance from Gold Coast. He then warned Palmer not to get in the way of the FFA as it tried to ensure a fair outcome for United's players and the rest of the league.
"If Mr Palmer tries to obstruct this attempt, he should stand condemned by the entire football community," Buckley said.
Palmer had broke the news on Twitter his licence had been revoked 10 minutes before the FFA's press conference at 2pm (AEDT).
It came two hours after Palmer extended a peace offering to Frank Lowy but indicated he'd continue to defy FFA orders regarding the Freedom of Speech logo.