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FFA governance issues put A-League expansion, W-League reform in doubt

Steven Lowy & David Gallop
FFA Chairman Steven Lowy, left, and FFA CEO David Gallop, right, will meet with A-League club owners this week.

Football Federation Australia chiefs are delaying progress on A-League expansion and W-League reform as they grapple with governance issues that threaten to consume the sport.

In a blow to expansion hopefuls, there is little prospect of FFA circulating the criteria for admission to the league by the end of February as promised.

And the whole season has passed without any movement from a much-publicised W-League "working party" formed last year.

Instead, FFA is focused on placating clubs and players with changes to their decision-making structures as demanded by FIFA.

FFA senior management will begin a round of consultation with club owners this week ahead of a March 31 deadline to reform their board.

Sources say clubs will table demands for increased revenue from the new broadcast deal and ask for more voices around FFA's top table when they meet with FFA on Tuesday.

Professional Footballers Australia are also seeking to be included around the table, with the players' union to meet with FFA later in the week.

There's a sense of distrust of FFA from clubs after the governing body organised a secretive trip to Zurich to speak with FIFA executives earlier this month.

Central to the A-League clubs' argument for increased representation is their role as the leading revenue-generators for the sport.

Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro called for all A-League revenue to remain within the competition in an incendiary speech last week.

There's genuine fears some owners could walk away altogether if FFA don't agree to more than double their annual distribution to clubs to AU$6 million, a figure the governing body is highly unlikely to match, as it would leave little money for FFA to fund other key areas of the game.

Meanwhile, the route to A-League expansion -- a cause for which Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is a key torchbearer -- has been muddied by the governance reforms.

An FFA source said expansion candidates shouldn't expect criteria to be announced "within days or weeks," giving rise to the prospect that it won't appear until the end of the A-League season in May.

Those looking for progress on W-League reforms have also been angered by the lack of progress from FFA.

While it's understood the working party -- including W-League chiefs, clubs and the PFA -- has met at least once, there have been no agreed outcomes on how to improve the domestic women's competition.

FFA appears to be open-minded after a positive meeting with state federation bosses on Monday, and will discuss "new operating and ownership models" for the A-League and W-League with club owners.

"We need to attract more capital and expertise to our clubs and game. FFA believes part of the answer lies in the way the leagues are structured," FFA chairman Steven Lowy said.

"We will begin this conversation with the club chairmen [on Tuesday].

"This will be an important consideration as FFA moves ahead with plans to expand the number of A-League clubs."

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