Sydney is awash with FFA Congress members as they congregate close to FFA headquarters in preparation for tomorrow's annual general meeting, with the wheeling and dealing expected to continue over dinner and potentially long into the night. 

It was not wanting to be part of the wheeling-and-dealing that prompted Craig Foster to sensationally withdraw his nomination on Friday evening prior to the vote being held tomorrow. 

Instead, the four currently tipped to be elected tomorrow are: Joseph Carrozzi, Remo Nogarotto, Heather Reid and either Stephen Conroy or Chris Nikou. It could well change many times between now and tomorrow, not least because it's a secret ballot.

So, as the FFA Congress chews the fat over dinner, we thought it was timely to look at the nominees and their potential conflicts of interest. It was an issue raised regularly in relation to Foster's nomination (eg. Southern Exposure, SBS) but the same microscope hasn't applied with the other candidates.

Let's start with the man tipped most likely to be Chairman, Chris Nikou. He's the one who signed-off on the Congress Review Working Group report, then put his name to an FFA Board statement objecting to the same report. 

Nikou was on the Board of the Asian Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC) from June 2012 to June 2015. Prior to that he was on the Board of Melbourne Victory. 

But more to the point, Nikou has been on the FFA Board since October 2014 - the same Board that fought so hard and so long to resist any change at all. This is what many people find confusing  

Likewise Danny Moulis. Another existing FFA Board member, a role to which he was appointed three years ago. 

Another person with more than one possible conflict of interest is Joseph Carrozzi, the Managing Partner of PwC. Like Nikou, Carrozzi was appointed to the Board of the Asian Cup LOC in May 2012 at the recommendation of the NSW Government. Frank Lowy was Chairman of the Board. As well as Carrozzi's role with the Asian Cup, he also has a close relationship with Sydney FC. 

PwC has had a close, pecuniary relationship with FFA since at least 2007.

PwC billed FFA for approximately $1.6 million for preliminary work done for the infamous 2018/2022 World Cup bid.

Coincidentally, this is the same amount of a sponsorship by PwC of the Bid, announced just nine weeks before the vote towards the end of September 2010.

While the FFA Final Report to the Government (of September 2011) showed that PwC performed work for the Bid that was billed for a total of $1.6 million, this was effectively cancelled out by the receipt of the sponsorship monies for the same amount for what was a nine-week sponsorship. Yet the amount of sponsorship reflected in the FFA Report is only $300,000. Did FFA forget about PwC’s generosity?

If Carrozzi, Nikou and Heather Reid are elected, it will be like old times. Reid was also on the Board of the Asian Cup LOC, recommended by the ACT Government.

In terms of Remo Nogarotto, like Foster he is involved in an A-League expansion bid, Macarthur South-West in Sydney. The firm of which he is Managing Director, Crosby Textor, was also involved with the World Cup Bid, conducting local and international market research at a cost of $360,000. Crosby Textor also advised Westfield on its €1.3 billion  investment in a Milan shopping complex. 

Mark Rendell works for Belgravia Kids, a division of Geoff Lord's Belgravia Leisure Group. Lord's bid to be one of the A-League expansion bidders was rejected in June when FFA announced the shortlist. 

Stephen Conroy's role as executive director of Responsible Wagering Australia would also require declaration and management for some areas of the FFA Board's operations, particularly as it is co-funded by Bet365 which is a sponsor of FFA.

Linda Norquay holds the key to the purse strings of Lachlan Murdoch's private investment company. Murdoch is executive co-chairman of News Corp which, via News Corp Australia, is the owner of FOX Sports, FFA's single biggest financial contributor. 

Morry Bailes served on the Board of South Australian Football from 2006 to 2013, when Judge Rauf Soulio was the Chairman. Judge Soulio was a member of the Nominations Committee that recommended the appointment of Steven Lowy, Crispin Murray and Kelly Bayer Rosmarin in 2015. 

Does any of this matter? Perhaps not. But we don't know, unless we know! Is it relevant? Yes it is.

When managing conflicts of interest, or the perception of conflict of interest, it's important that candidates, their nominators, and, if elected, the Board members are transparent so they can be held appropriately accountable.

Updated on 19 November as further information has come to hand.

Categories: Analysis | Football Business

ffa board, ffa governance, #ffavotes

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