It brought a smile to read Mike Cockerill’s latest piece attempting to goad/coax/encourage Frank Lowy to tip a very large bucket of money into football in Australia. Mike Cockerill has written a variation on this article more-or-less annually for the past seven or so years. 

It’s one of the urban myths of Australian sport that Lowy hasn’t actually funded football over the past 12 years anyway. Most people think he has.

“Isn’t it wonderful he’s put so much money into the game!” they exclaim. True, Lowy has brought money into the game by his presence via corporate support. But when you explain the ‘Lowy money’ that has been put into it has either been through Westfield as a sponsorship (at comparatively modest levels) and via the Lowy family’s personal ownership stake in Sydney FC, many football and general sports fans are surprised.

According to Mike, the reason Lowy hasn’t delivered a windfall to the sport by way of a gift is because he thought it was a conflict of interest. This is ROFL stuff. For a start when it comes to ‘conflict of interest’, Lowy had to be dragged kicking and screaming into giving up all but 15% of his stake in Sydney FC (at a tidy financial gain) in 2008 because he was about to embark upon the World Cup Bid. 

Mike puts forward variations of this idea would always be commented upon by Lowy. The reason Lowy gave for not doing so was sound.

Frank Lowy hasn’t put his hand in his pocket simply because he thought the game needed to survive by itself. If it didn’t, then it needed to adjust. If it was given the equivalent of a hand-out, it may have a financial buffer but it may not learn from mistakes and may not be as fresh and relevant as it needs to be to survive and prosper in a competitive sports environment. In other words, his view was that a charitable windfall is not the panacea that will ensure sustainability. 

As for the suggestion that every registered player pay $10 per annum for the next three years towards a ‘future fund’, every registered player is already paying a ‘tax’ to head office (FFA).

Last time it was reported how much it was, it accounted for approximately 7% of FFA revenue. If the suggestion is that there be another $10 on top of what is already paid, then there would need to be significant guarantees about the purpose of a fund, the extent to which it reinvested in grassroots – something FFA has never done despite money from the Rudd Government to do so – and how it was governed. Assuming Mike Cockerill is floating this idea because it’s being discussed, FFA needs to show better standards and understanding of governance than it did in the recent passing of the baton from father-to-son in the FFA Chairman’s role.

Pic: Nurdin Halid, former President of the Indonesian FA and friend of Brisbane Roar owners, the Bakries, with Frank Lowy after Indonesia swung their support behind Australia’s World Cup bid five months after signing a ‘cooperation agreement’ with FFA. 

Categories: Opinion | A-League

ffa, frank lowy, nurdin halid, a-league

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