Remember 2015 and the passing of the baton at FFA from Frank Lowy to Steven?

The deputy chairman at Westfield and FFA, Brian Schwartz, chaired a FFA nominations committee as part of a search by executive headhunters, Egon Zehnder.

In addition to the Steven Lowy Egon Zehnder came up with two other Sydney people with links to the Lowy family. 

Those two people, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin and Crispin Murray, are to remain on the FFA Board until their term expires next year.

There is also the case of Chris Nikou and Daniel Moulis, who were appointed to the FFA Board in 2014 and 2015 respectively. They are standing for election also. 

So regardless of who is elected on 19 November, at least two (Rosmarin and Murray) and perhaps four (Nikou and Moulis) of the current Board, will be part of a new Board despite also being party to the current Board’s prolonged three-year battle to broaden the representation of the FFA Congress, and to the Board’s objections to the changes to the FFA Constitution that were agreed on 2 October this year.

That brings us to 2018. 

Within the limitations of the Congress Review Working Group (CRWG) report, which we have written previously about, on the plus side:

  • No money is being spent on a headhunting firm; 
  • There are 12 nominees which, in theory at least, means there is competition and choice for the voting stakeholders;
  • Nominations can now be made by 20 people (19 men, one woman - deputy CEO of the PFA, Kate Gill, but she made none), instead of the previous group of three;
  • Votes can now be lodged by 30 people, instead of ten.

On the minus side:

  • Despite being able to make a nomination or second a nominee, only five (from nine) state federations and only three (from nine) A-League clubs did so;
  • Other than the PFA, not one of the Congress members has announced who they nominated or seconded. Instead, we had to reveal it exclusively here;
  • 10 of the people who will be voting for the FFA Board on 19 November have not yet been announced, ie. the members of the Women’s Council;
  • Other than Craig Foster, who has a public profile and whose views on football are widely known and public, it is unclear what any of the candidates actually stand for and, more to the point in terms of best governance practice, why they were nominated.

Let’s consider these four issues.

1.  Lack of engagement in process

The low number of nominators points to a number of alternatives. 

The first is that the past three years was a giant waste of time because the A-League clubs in particular fought for the right, amongst other things, to nominate Board members but only three clubs bothered to do so: Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers. That is not likely to be the case. 

The second is that, as we mentioned last week, all the clubs are in furious agreement with one another and the three nominating clubs merely signed the paperwork.

The third is that the outcome is already determined.

The fourth is that both points two and three are correct.

In terms of the state member federations, it is encouraging to see that the ACT, Tasmania and Northern NSW are amongst the active parties to the nomination process, especially considering their objections to the entire reform process. They are even in agreement with some of those they previously battled against: for example, the ACT joined with Melbourne Victory to nominate Stephen Conroy (a Melbourne City ambassador), and with Melbourne City to nominate Linda Norquay. 

The fact that some of the state federation nominators haven’t actually met some of the people they nominated is apparently not important to them. 

The most notable absentee from the nomination process is the biggest state federation, NSW.  Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory all failed to nominate someone also. 

We understand that NSW pushed hard for a particular candidate’s nomination but then asked another federation to sign the nomination document. Many in football circles are speculating as to why this might be the case. 

2.  Lack of transparency of nominations

Other than the fact that we revealed who nominated and seconded who, the only party that has publicly announced its nominees are the PFA. 

We expect that the reason why the others haven’t is because it points to how the vote for the four positions may unfold on 19 November. 

There are four candidates who have cross-factional support from both state member federations and A-League clubs: Conroy, Judith Griggs, Remo Nogarotto and Norquay. Cross-factional support is important as the “prescribed majority” to elect directors is 60%; the state member federations and A-League clubs account for 83% of the vote. 

  • At a glance? Two men, two women, one ‘old soccer’ type, two fans, a lawyer who is also a sports rights expert, an accountant trusted by the major broadcasting partner and two who know the political landscape well.

A further two candidates are supported by the A-League clubs: Joseph Carrozzi and Nikou.

  • At a glance? Both are lawyers, Carrozzi is also an accountant, one from the big end of town with fingers in multiple corporate pies, one with a knowledge of how the AFL does what it does so successfully, the other with knowledge of the Big Bash League, one who – putting aside the flip-flopping – might know a few things about the old Board and its decisions that could be useful, both were on the Asian Cup Board chaired by Frank Lowy.

Four candidates are supported wholly by state member federations: Morry Bailes, Moulis, Mark Rendell and Mark Shield.

That brings us to Foster and Heather Reid nominated by the PFA, and with a seconder from the ACT in respect of Reid.

  • At a glance? Former Socceroo, professional player, grassroots and elite coach, media experience, football administrative experience, international experience. Foster has been Chairman and CEO of the PFA (which presumably spooks the A-League clubs), and is a member of the Federal Government's Australian Multicultural Council. Reid also served on the Asian Cup Board chaired by Frank Lowy.

3.  10 voters unknown

Football Today clarified with three Congress members that the Women’s Council members will be in place to vote for the Board members. Each of the ten Women’s Council members has one vote.

The problem is that, two weeks out from voting in the only election this century, the Board nominees do not know who the voters are, and the putative Women’s Council members may or may not know much about the Board members they will be asked to vote for. 

Let’s hope at least that the Women’s Council members are allowed to come to an independent decision, and not expected to vote as directed by their nominators. 

We understand that the PFA has agreed to their three nominated members, all of whom are current players. 

4.  Why were the candidates nominated?

Football Today is aware that a number of nominators have not met the individual(s) they nominated. We asked the state member federation presidents concerned why they nominated someone they hadn’t met. Only one responded saying they had conducted due diligence including telephone calls with the candidates. 

Some candidates were also asked for comment; only Rendell responded, confirming he had not met his nominator, Bob Gordon from Tasmania, but had one telephone call with him. He has also not met the man who seconded him, Mark O'Neill from the ACT.  

To say that this is unusual, would be an understatement. 

Only the PFA has announced who they have nominated and why.

Final word

We checked what the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) had to say about Board nomination processes, and we leave the final word to their guidelines for readers to make up their own mind about how the new Congress is going about their business. 

A formal and transparent procedure for the selection, appointment and reappointment of directors helps to build a relationship and helps to foster a relationship of confidence and understanding with [stakeholders].”

Categories: Analysis | Football Business

ffa board, ffa governance, football governance

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