Title-winning coach Ange Postecoglou has slammed maverick club owner Clive Palmer, saying he's treated Gold Coast United as a toy and held the A-League to ransom.
Brisbane Roar mentor Postecoglou launched a scathing attack on Palmer's antics over the past fortnight, as well as his defiance after having his licence terminated by Football Federation Australia.
The billionaire mining magnate has indicated he will take the FFA to court in a bid to stay in control of the last-placed club, which has only four players on its books for next season.
While the FFA are prepared to pay Gold Coast players to finish the last four rounds of the competition, Palmer's reluctance to walk away puts those matches in serious doubt.
"I find the whole thing fairly distasteful and disrespectful," Postecoglou said on Thursday.
"For anyone who is involved in the game or passionate about the game, once people are prepared to put the whole competition at risk just to prove a point they lose me straight away.
"If I see people using the actual game and competition as a toy I have no time for it."
Postecoglou's second-placed Roar are scheduled to meet the youthful Gold Coast, who have drawn their past two matches against Central Coast and Melbourne Victory, in the final round of the competition before the play-off series.
United's New Zealand international goalkeeper Glen Moss, currently sidelined with injury, told the Gold Coast Bulletin all the players were extremely keen to finish the season on the pitch.
But the club cancelled their Thursday morning training run at Carrara and players were off-limits to the media.
There have been reports the training session was relocated to Palmer's nearby business compound.
Postecoglou called on Palmer to ensure there's a simple solution to the looming crisis.
"Back off, let the team play out the season as it should," he said.
"Clive Palmer has said all along he's got some great young kids. Well I suggest he thinks about those young kids because I think they've done a fantastic job the last two weeks and unfortunately it's been buried.
"The FFA run the game and at some point in time you have to respect the organisation that run the competition.
"It's like me going out and saying to the players `if the referee is having a shocker then just walk off the pitch because you're not happy with it'.
"If people are prepared to put the competition at stake then I have no time for it."