Lowy to avoid removal by FIFA if clubs and PFA accept new offer

The Football Federation Australia board could be spared the embarrassment of being overthrown by FIFA after a majority agreement for a new FFA congress was reached late on Tuesday night, but only if their two fiercest opponents rubber stamp the latest proposal.

The bitter civil war that's engulfed Australian football for the past year is one step closer to ending after the nine state football federations are understood to have made a breakthrough by reaching a majority agreement for a new membership structure of the FFA. After being told by FIFA to expand its congress from 10 votes (nine for the states and one for the A-League clubs) to become sufficiently democratic and inclusive of the game, the majority of FFA's members reached an agreement for a 15-seat congress, ensuring the states retain nine votes, four for A-League clubs, one for the PFA and one for women's football (9-4-1-1).

However, approval from FIFA and the end of their involvement in Australian football's governance will only occur with the blessing of the 9-4-1-1 model from the A-League club owners and the players' union, The PFA.

Despite previously requiring only 75 per cent of the existing 10 FFA members to expand its congress, FIFA reinforced its own preference for consensus requiring the approval of all three stakeholder groups before it will accept a new model for Australian football governance, as recently as August 22.

After reaching their own agreement internally - one that ensures a majority of 90 per cent of FFA members - state federations are seeking to meet with the clubs and the players' union to gain their approval of the model before they can reach consensus and avoid a FIFA Normalising Committee removing the FFA board by November 30.

However, it's understood the clubs and the PFA are unlikely to accept the new model on the grounds of accountability. Under their proposal, the state member federations will retain 60 per cent of the votes, the minimum majority to elect FFA board directors. Both groups are holding out for larger representation that ensures no one bloc retains 60 per cent of the votes or more.

Another issue is the lack of clarity surrounding the one vote reserved for women's football. All three stakeholders are in agreement for a stand alone vote for female participants but ambiguity over the state's proposal of who holds that seat at congress has the clubs and PFA hesitant to accept the proposal.

The clubs and PFA believe the players' union is best positioned to assume that seat as they represent Matildas and W-League players. There has also been a movement for the only stand-alone W-League club, Canberra United, to take up that seat, despite having close ties to the FFA and governed by an existing voting member, Capital Football.

The prospect of a FIFA takeover increased last month after a three-person delegation from world football's governing body oversaw two days of lengthy talks but failed to deliver an agreement across all parties. That coincided with allegations of interference from Lowy after consensus was reached twice before breaking down..

Despite the nine state member federations having settled on a voting composition this week that meets most criteria for the first time during the congress saga, the breakthrough could leave the FFA no closer to resolving its bitter deadlock before the November 30 deadline.

The story Lowy to avoid removal by FIFA if clubs and PFA accept new offer first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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