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Mar 21, 2006

FFA step in to help Sydney FC's finances

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has confirmed it's working to stem the bleeding at the financially troubled Sydney FC.

In a statement, the FFA says it is discussing with potential investors the situation at the A-League champions, who are reported to have made a $3 million loss in their first year.

Sydney FC refused to comment on the situation, but the FFA's statement says the club has "financial challenges."

"The fact is that like other clubs Sydney FC is facing significant financial challenges as a start-up, professional club," the statement said.

"Following a successful on-field season, discussions are continuing with existing shareholders and other potential investors to provide additional funds."

The club - sometimes called Bling FC for its apparent silvertail status in the financially modest A-League - is reportedly paying coach Pierre Littbarski $700,000 and marquee player Dwight Yorke $1 million.

And its financial situation caused the club's title celebrations to be short-lived, with speculation mounting about the futures of both Littbarski and Yorke.

Former NSL championship winning coach Nick Theodorakopoulos has accused Littbarski of disrespecting Australian soccer by using the media to mount his campaign to stay.

And Theodorakopoulos says Littbarski is grandstanding as he waits to discover if he'll be retained at the helm of the champion A-League team.

"There's a lot of people in this game who lost a lot of money, and Pierre Littbarski should show more respect for the food he's got on the table," Theodorakopoulos said.

"He knows (Sydney FC) can't afford the same money.

"They've made it quite clear about that for the last month.

"They signed him to a one-year contract, and I'm not on the inside, but to my knowledge, they've honoured that, they've paid him and they've paid him all his bonuses.

Theodorakopoulos' comments come after Littbarski hit out at the club, saying he is starting to look for another job because Sydney FC hadn't made him a formal offer.

Theodorakopoulos wouldn't rule out an interest in the Sydney FC job if it became available, but says he's "almost past worrying about jobs in football."

He says Littbarski has the dream job of Australian soccer, and should be more appreciative.

"With players like Dwight Yorke, (Clint) Bolton, (Alvin) Ceccoli and (Sasha) Petrovski, most coaches would kill to coach a side like that, and nine out of ten coaches would have been just as successful," Theodorakopoulos said.

"It's a case of good players making a coach.

"There's no doubt he's done a good job, I mean he's won a championship.

"You need a coach with that aura and charisma and knowledge, but those players I've just mentioned, that's half your team.

Theodorakopoulos says Littbarski is using the impasse to position himself for another job.

"If Pierre Littbarski had another job for the same money, he'd be gone," Theodorakopoulos said.

"If he can't see what they're trying to do, maybe he should get himself the services of a management company."