Lowy tells Sydney and Phoenix – stop whining and get on with it!

Football supremo Frank Lowy has castigated Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix following the public outcry over the future of both A-League clubs.

In a strongly-worded statement the outgoing chairman of Football Federation Australia said he felt compelled to address “ill-informed and inaccurate” statements.

Lowy went so far as to question the value of the public debate.

Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow and head coach Graham Arnold criticised plans for a 'super A-League club' on the Sky Blues' doorstep combining Sutherland Shire and St George associations. 

Saving his sharpest rebuke for the Sydney coach, Lowy said: “My advice to Graham Arnold is to focus on making Sydney FC a champion team instead of entering a debate he knows nothing about."

The Sky Blues have pointed out that a team in south Sydney would cut the club's membership in half.

Meanwhile Phoenix were denied a 10-year licence extension raising serious doubts about the New Zealand-based club’s long-term future.

But Lowy was having none of it.

Barlow was told to get on with a submission to make Sydney’s case. Arnold was advised to focus on making Sydney a champion team and Phoenix urged to demonstrate they deserve to be in the competition.

Addressing the uproar over Phoenix, 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."

Lowy went on to say: “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."

But Lowy said: “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."

Lowy added: “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.”

1 comment


Thank-goodness Frank Lowy is leaving the chairmanship of FFA and it is long overdue; his latest misstep is trying to stifle a very important debate about the future structure of the A-League. Wellington Phoenix are the gateway to a market of over 4 million people and also to countries in the Pacific such as Fiji (witness Roy Krishna); no team in Australia has this market potential. Phoenix are financially stable, play good quality football and have a valued presence in the Wellington and New Zealand sporting market place. FFA should work with Phoenix to grow the game in New Zealand rather than undermine them. Rome took many days to build and patience rather than precipitous action is required to grow the A-League.