The Chairman of FFA, Mr Frank Lowy AC, said today he felt compelled to issue the following statement given the ill-informed and inaccurate statements about the future of the Hyundai A-League being made by various parties.
Mr Lowy said:
“In April this year, I attended a meeting of Hyundai A-League Chairmen and explained to them the long-term strategy regarding Wellington Phoenix.
“Since that time I have not heard a peep from anybody except for ongoing discussions with Phoenix.
“Earlier this week I had a telephone conversation with Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow and advised him that no decision has been made about replacing Phoenix should that club no longer be part of the A-League.
“I explained to him that it was obvious that if Phoenix was to leave FFA would need to replace that team with another to maintain the 10-club A-League which we are required to do under our broadcast agreement. In other words, it would not be an extension of the A-League, but a continuation of the 10-club competition.
“As is stands, Phoenix has four years to demonstrate that they are an asset to the competition and not a liability instead of simply asking for a 10-year extension to their licence.
“Ultimately, if Phoenix is not part of the A-League then FFA is obliged to explore options to maintain a 10-club competition.
“Clearly, a new team in south Sydney is one of those options. Discussions have also taken place about the potential for a new team in Wollongong. Even a new team in Victoria, Canberra or Queensland can’t be completely ruled out at this stage.
“I advised Scott that any future decision will be based on facts and figures and not emotion and asked him to provide FFA with a carefully considered submission about his club’s position. I also advised him that that FFA would consult with his club, or any other club, affected by any future proposals.
“This is why there is no point in conducting an uninformed public debate, which simply creates confusion and unnecessary anxiety. I explained this to Scott directly which is why I am disappointed he has chosen to make an emotive public issue about it at this stage.
“And my advice to Graham Arnold is to focus on making Sydney FC a champion team instead of entering a debate he knows nothing about.
“When all the facts are known FFA will make a decision based on rational judgments and consultation with the clubs affected about what is good for the game.
“Meanwhile, Sydney FC should prepare its factual submission and Phoenix should concentrate on the task ahead.”