MELBOURNE, March 2 (Reuters) - North Queensland Fury should have been given more time to raise the necessary funds to avoid being axed from Australia's top-flight football league, their chief executive Rabieh Krayem said on Wednesday.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) opted to close the franchise it had been propping up on Tuesday after the club failed to raise the A$1.5 million ($1.52 million) target to keep it running.
"We were so close to delivering a franchise that the community could have owned within a 12-month period, allowing the club to stand on its own two feet," Krayem told the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.
"For the development of the game in regional Queensland, it's a massive backwards step."
The FFA, who had ploughed A$7-9 million into the Fury over their two seasons according to local media reports, said the team's poor financial state could have endangered the competition's format.
However, Krayem said their hard work should have been rewarded by an extension to raise funds.
"Every goal we've been set, we've delivered on," he said.
"When you consider in July last year that there was no structure in the club, what we've done in putting it back together, all whilst developing on and off the field and engaged with the football community, we should be proud of what we did.
"But ultimately the FFA owns the club, and have assessed what risk it was to them, and thought it was too much. They think a A$2 million loss, to save a club, is too much."
The axing of the team leaves the struggling A-League with just 10 sides and comes as another blow to Australia football.
The sport's popularity has suffered since Australia lost out to Qatar in the race to host the 2022 World Cup, while there was further disappointment when the national side lost to Japan in the final of the Asian Cup in January.comments