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Feb 28, 2012

Lowy v Palmer bound for courts

Let the battle of the billionaires begin.

Gold Coast's axing from the A-League on Wednesday set the stage for arguably the highest-profile legal battle in Australian sport between Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy and United's owner, mining magnate Clive Palmer.

Just minutes before FFA officially announced their decision to revoke Gold Coast's licence with immediate effect, Palmer had already confirmed on Twitter he would head to the courts and backed it up later in a fiery statement.

"Gold Coast United has been denied natural justice and we are prepared to go to the highest court in the country to challenge this ludicrous decision," Palmer said.

Lowy, too, seemed resigned to the fact the battle had only begun.

"I would probably think so," he said when asked if he expected a legal challenge.

Lowy, chairman of shopping centre giant Westfield for 50 years, has an estimated $4.98 billion fortune - marginally less than Palmer at $5.05 billion.

They are two of Australia's most powerful men and neither appears likely to take a backwards step.

In the face of earlier suggestions his licence could be revoked, Palmer last week warned: "We will injunct them in the Supreme Court and we will fight them in court to a standstill.

"I have been involved in major business transactions in my life and in 68 litigations and our record is 68 to zero."

Lowy, though, was clearly not intimidated by that and insisted on Wednesday FFA had made the decision confident of its legal standing.

"I would have preferred to come to some sort of solution but we have rock solid legal advice that we are entitled to do what we are doing," Lowy said.

There certainly appeared to be no love lost between the pair on Wednesday.

In his statement calling for the government to investigate FFA's administration Palmer claimed he had respect for Lowy but then labelled him a "dictator" and an institution in Australian sport who "might be visiting a different kind of institution".

Lowy described Palmer's recent behaviour and comments as disrespectful of the game but revealed the relationship had started on a much brighter note.

"I had a good relationship with him," Lowy said.

"I went to matches with him, I talked with him and I can't understand it (his motives).

"We certainly didn't create that. I don't know what the motive is, and I really don't want to guess.

"I just don't know."

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