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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar 1, 2012

Palmer forms organisation to challenge FFA

Mining magnate Clive Palmer has responded to the axing of his A-League club Gold Coast United by creating a football body called Football Australia, which he says will hold Football Federation Australia to account.

Palmer also announced he would be seeking a court injunction on Friday to allow his Gold Coast team to play its last four matches of the season under its current structure.

And, in a wide-ranging and sometime bizarre press conference, he claimed FFA chairman Frank Lowy had approached him about winding up Gold Coast United and making a $5 million investment to set up a team in western Sydney.

As the FFA was in talks with Gold Coast players about completing the season under its control following Wednesday's decision to revoke the club licence, Palmer said he would seek an injunction because he had been offered no right of appeal.

"Tomorrow in the Supreme Court of Queensland, we'll be seeking an injunction which foreshadows a legal action which the club will be taking against the FFA and against its members in relation to their illegal ... activity which is against the constitution of this country," Palmer told the press conference on Thursday.

Palmer said he believed FFA had "breached natural justice" and also indicated he had the support of A-League club Newcastle, claiming Hunter Sports Group chief executive Troy Palmer would file an affidavit supporting his bid to see out the season with the club.

Palmer started the press conference by trying to detail Football Australia's aims and said he would only be a member of it rather than running it.

But the organisation got off to a rocky start on Thursday with initial confusion over its intent.

Palmer's media release, issued shortly before his press conference in Brisbane, had the mining magnate saying the organisation was created with the aim of replacing FFA.

However, Palmer and FA's newly-appointed chief executive, former A-League chief Archie Fraser, said the organisation was not necessarily out to topple FFA but would act as watchdog and forum for ideas in the sport.

Palmer likened it to the Lowy Institute, an independent think tank for international policy set up by fellow billionaire Lowy.

"What does Football Australia plan to do? It plans to publish papers, hold press conferences, seek opinions, lobby the government, lobby the FFA for a better outcome for Australians and the game in Australia," Palmer told the press conference.

"It's much like the Lowy institute to the broader economy, where Frank Lowy's done a great job to make people and politicians accountable for public policy."

Palmer's comments contradicted the release sent minutes prior to the press conference.

It read: "Mr Palmer said Football Australia aimed to replace Football Federation Australia (FFA), which he said was incompetent at both a domestic and international level."

"The FFA has lurched from one disaster to another and needs to be replaced," the statement quoted Palmer as saying.

"They staged a hugely embarrassing World Cup bid which blew $46 million of taxpayers' money for one vote and they are running an A-League competition which is bleeding money from club owners.

"The fans, players and people with a passion for football in Australia deserve better and Football Australia will be based on full transparency and corporate governance.

"We want to ensure there is fairness in the game for all stakeholders and end the dictatorship that the game has endured under the FFA."

FFA issued a statement on Thursday night, making no mention of Palmer's creation of Football Australia and vowing not to get involved in another war of words.

"Once again an array of unsubstantiated claims and wild commentary have been made by Clive Palmer," FFA chief executive Ben Buckley said.

"The comments serve no purpose in any way to advance football in Australia.

"At this stage FFA does not intend to respond to this farcical outburst, which is clearly intended to deflect attention from the real issue - that Gold Coast United FC under Clive Palmer has shown that it will not comply with the rules and regulations of the competition in accordance with the agreement they signed.

FFA said it still hoped Sunday's match between Wellington and Gold Coast could go ahead and that A-League chief Lyall Gorman had had positive discussion with Gold Coast players.

"There's a real determination among the players to fulfill the remaining fixtures and the FFA is working diligently to get that outcome," Buckley said.

"This afternoon FFA was informed that Gold Coast United would initiate legal proceedings tomorrow to challenge the notice of termination.

"We have expected this turn of events and we are fully prepared."

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