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Mar 1, 2012

Palmer challenges FFA, again

Confusion may have been created by mining magnate Clive Palmer's reaction to being stripped of his A-League licence but Gold Coast United players' intention was clear - "we want to keep playing".

Soccer's battle of the billionaires appeared to become a full scale war when a Palmer media release on Thursday announced he had created a new body called Football Australia which aimed to replace the "incompetent" Frank Lowy-led Football Federation Australia.

However, Palmer and FA CEO - ex-A-League chief Archie Fraser - later said at a press conference that they hoped to work with FFA and act as watchdog and forum for ideas in the sport.

"Are we toppling or taking over FFA? We just want to keep them honest to make change," Fraser said.

"I don't think they will be happy about it (FA's creation) but eventually they will have to listen."

Yet Palmer could not help having a crack at Lowy on Thursday, claiming during a sometimes bizarre press conference that the FFA chairman had approached him about winding up Gold Coast United and help set up a western Sydney team by investing $5 million.

Caught in the middle are the players who held talks about their future with FFA rep and A-League boss Lyall Gorman and Professional Footballers Australia chief Brendan Schwab on the Gold Coast on Thursday, a day after Palmer had the United licence taken away from him.

Gorman was confident they could find a way to play their final four games - starting on Sunday in Wellington.

"We have had encouraging discussions," he told AAP.

"The universal voice was that they wanted to keep playing - they want to finish the season.

"We hope to achieve our goals to maintain the integrity of the competition."

But in another twist, Palmer is seeking a court injunction on Friday to allow the Gold Coast team to play.

He believed the FFA had "breached natural justice" and indicated he had A-League club Newcastle's backing, claiming Hunter Sports Group CEO Troy Palmer would file an affidavit supporting his bid to see out the season with the club.

Palmer conceded he would remove the controversial "freedom of speech" slogan from their playing strip if it helped earn a court injunction.

On Palmer seeking an injunction, Gorman said: "He's got legal pathways, we will have to await the outcome."

United's New Zealand international goalkeeper Glen Moss said they wanted to finish the season "as a mark of respect to the A-League".

Fraser tried to offer an olive branch to the FFA but it remains to be seen whether they even acknowledge the FA.

"We want the FFA to embrace us and get involved, put behind them the professional issues that they have had, and basically stop playing the man and start doing the job to make this sport No.1 in the country," he said.

But Palmer has had a very public running battle with Lowy and the FFA boss in a newspaper interview this week said Fraser had done a "lousy job" as A-League chief.

"That (comment) is disappointing. I don't intend to take legal action. I would rather respond by making this game the best in the country," Fraser said of Lowy.

It seems Palmer's rambling press conference on Thursday also didn't help.

"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 CEO Ben Buckley said in a statement.

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