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Feb 28, 2012

FFA revoke Gold Coast licence

Football Federation Australia are determined to ensure Gold Coast United play out the rest of the A-League season after sensationally terminating club owner Clive Palmer's licence.

FFA chairman Frank Lowy 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.

Palmer has continued to defy the FFA after the Gold Coast 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.

The billionaire mining magnate, who had contracted only a bare 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 was determined last-placed United would play out the final four rounds of the competition but indicated Sunday's match against the Phoenix in Wellington might be postponed.

He said the FFA would explore all options, including paying Gold Coast players to play the final month of the season if necessary.

"The FFA will do everything possible within its power to see the players see out the season on the pitch," 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, with upcoming fixtures against Wellington (away), Newcastle (away), Perth (home) and Brisbane (home).

"If Mr Palmer tries to obstruct this attempt, he should stand condemned by the entire football community," Buckley said.

The third-placed Phoenix are extremely keen for Sunday's match at Westpac Stadium to go ahead as scheduled.

Gold Coast's licence termination 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.

Palmer broke the news his licence had been revoked on Twitter 10 minutes before the FFA announced it at a 2pm (AEDT) media conference in Sydney.

It came two hours after Palmer issued a statement praising Lowy but also indicating he'd continue to defy FFA orders regarding the Freedom of Speech logo.

Lowy, who described the Coast's efforts to draw crowds and engage the local community as a "spectacular failure" on Tuesday, said he felt "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.

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