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Feb 29, 2012

FFA should run Gold Coast, Bleiberg

As in-limbo Gold Coast players started discussions about whether to play out the season on Wednesday night, former mentor Bleiberg pleaded for the FFA to ensure the last-placed club remained in a 10-team A-League next season.

The colourful coach said he'd do anything in his power to keep United afloat on the tourist strip following FFA's decision to tear up owner Clive Palmer's licence.

"Whether it be as coach or gear man, or polish the shoes of the players, I'll be happy to help which I did in the past," he said.

Despite terribly-low crowds, a disappointed Bleiberg said there was enough interest, development and participation in the code on the coast for a successful A-League club, even without Palmer's millions.

"It's a really sad day for me because I was a part of this GC United franchise from day one," he said. "I'm shellshocked - it's an unpleasant situation ... and I just hope that the FFA take over Gold Coast United and somehow the franchise will continue." Bleiberg led United to third place in their first two seasons in the A-League but they endured a luckless and injury-riddled 2011-12 campaign, before he was dismissed a fortnight ago for defying Palmer over the selection of teenager Mitch Cooper as captain.

A-League boss Lyall Gorman and Professional Footballers Australia chief executive Brendan Schwab will both meet with United players on Thursday.

The FFA, loath to see rival teams disadvantaged through walkovers awarded in United's absence, are determined for Gold Coast to play out the remaining four rounds of the season and will pay the players to do so.

United play top-six clubs Wellington (away), Newcastle (away), Perth (home) and Brisbane (home) .

Schwab demanded the FFA honour all contracts, which include the four players contracted to the end of next season, as well as continuing the treatment and rehabilitation of injured players. The PFA is also seeking an urgent meeting with FFA to reach agreement on the status of work visas for foreign players and the payment of entitlements for former United players Peter Perchtold and Robson whose contracts were terminated prematurely last year.

A lawyer himself, Schwab expects Palmer to seek an injunction and restrain FFA from implementing the licence termination, which could prevent any payment at all for players.

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