It was good to hear that the FFA are not going to let A League newcomer North Queensland Fury fall by the wayside after just one season. Had it done so, it would have reflected very badly on them and would have implied that they had not carried out due diligence before allowing them to enter the Hyundai A league.
What was more worrying is the fact that it would have been a case of Deja-vu for football fans with the new league heading down the path of the old NSL with teams entering and leaving the league like a revolving door.
What is a concern still however is the fact that FFA is having to prop up so many of the teams in the Hyundai A league. It is one thing to find an investor for one team, but for two or three it becomes a very different task.
Now that a decision has been made to keep the club alive the FFA stated in a press release on Thursday that “The process will take several weeks and will involve putting in place operational, football and staffing plans for the club.
FFA CEO Ben Buckley was quoted as saying in the same release that “It is an immediate priority for us to work through the contractual arrangements with the players and we will be doing that in consultation with them individually and with the player’s association.”
What is of grave concern is the news that the FFA have apparently told all the players on existing contracts that those agreements are now void, and that their management and the PFA must act on their behalf to re-negotiate new terms and contracts.
This is an issue that could well make the decision to keep North Queensland Fury in the league a bad one. There will undoubtedly be legal ramifications unless the “Old” North Queensland Fury is or has been wound up and a “new entity” formed. These players have contracts with the club and understandably do not expect to have to negotiate new ones.
What this decision may also do is prompt a mass exodus of players and coaching staff, that will see the FFA faced with an even greater task, of installing a new coach who is then going to have to try and recruit a new squad for the upcoming season, at a time when you already have Melbourne Heart trying to tempt players to them and the new Sydney team is bound to be already putting out feelers. It will be a very hard task for whoever takes on the job.
What unfolds in the coming weeks could in fact be very damaging for the game, unless handled with the utmost skill. Whoever is charged with this unenviable task at the FFA could make a name for themselves if they manage to negotiate through this and avoid negative publicity for the game. Let us all hope that they achieve this.