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Feb 29, 2012

FFA faces huge test after Palmer axing

A better future for the A-League? Or will it be Palmer-geddon?

Clive Palmer has contended for 11 days that Football Federation Australia can't run the game properly.

Strangely, his axing - and the complex issues it brings - will prove whether he is right or not.

The FFA's most pressing task among many is shoring up Gold Coast United for the rest of the season.

Failure to do so will ruin the integrity of this season's competition, with Gold Coast's remaining four matches having huge implications for the teams they play, and some of those they don't.

Then, it is critical for the FFA to find a 10th team for next season - be it a Palmer-less Coast or elsewhere.

With a new television rights deal looming, every club has been promised a piece of a pie no one knows the size of yet, but all are relying on being large enough to stop the red ink.

Simple mathematics determines a nine-team competition will bring you less coin than 10.

Even though it appears scorched earth, Gold Coast remains a viable and, publicly, the best available option to resurrect a 10th team.

The other option is western Sydney.

A preferred bidder with the FFA imprimatur couldn't get a team up and going in the region with an 18-month lead-in. One wonders how it could be done in just six.

Any team fast-tracked there for next season will enter Australia's hottest football battleground.

The deep-pocketed AFL will throw as much money at the GWS Giants as needed to make them float.

Rugby league - as evidenced by Phil Gould's rallying cry on a NSW newspaper back page that the region needs its fans more than ever - is up for the fight.

Is the FFA? Does it need another fight considering Palmer is already gloves-off for what will be a bloody legal battle?

Throwing Palmer out of the game represents a massive, multi-headed test for the FFA.

The sport's governing body has only recently failed while trying to concentrate on multiple balls in the air.

Remember how the A-League struggled and expansion failed during a World Cup bid which also crashed and burned?

Mining magnate Palmer has proved pretty good at digging holes in the past.

With what now lies ahead, the FFA must prove it is just as capable of climbing out of them.

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