Football Federation Australia chairman Steven Lowy has refused to rule out legal action against FIFA should the world governing body decide to oust him and his board.
FIFA appears set to take over Australian football after Lowy failed to force through his controversial congress model on Thursday, prompting A-league clubs to claim he had “lost the locker room”.
However Lowy has sought legal advice in a bid to cling onto his increasingly untenable hold on the code’s top job in Australia.
His resolution to reform the FFA Congress fell short of the 75 per cent threshold at the governing body’s annual general meeting.
FFA needed eight of the 10 current congress votes to expand the membership that elects its board and it had to happen by the end of Thursday – FIFA’s deadline.
As expected, the NSW and Victoria state federations along with the clubs voted against the motion for a model also bitterly opposed by the players’ union.
Seven of the nine state federations voted in favour.
In response, Lowy issued a venomous rebuke accusing the clubs of seeking “money and control” at the expense of the Socceroos and grassroots.
Watch Steven Lowy’s press conference:
“This has been a fight about who runs the game in Australia – private club owners or an independent board,” he said.
“The independent board was put in place some 13 years ago because the game was a basket case.
“Those who voted against progress today are those who want to take the game back to the bad old days.
“Five of the professional clubs are controlled by foreign interests. One is controlled by Manchester City.
“It’s not in their interests that there’s an independent board allocating funds for the whole of the game.”
Lowy will refer the matter to FIFA immediately, with its member associations committee to meet on December 4 and rule on what happens next.
The most likely option is a normalisation committee to remove Lowy and temporarily run the code.
Lowy, who insisted on Thursday afternoon that he would not resign, will push FIFA to take alternative action but admits no other viable options are on the table.
He also repeatedly declined to state whether he would abide by a normalisation committee, saying only “we have to make that determination at the time and we’re a long way from that”.
Asked whether FFA would take legal action against FIFA, he said: “Our board would have to discuss that at the time.
“I don’t need to make that decision now. It hasn’t been asked of us.
“We have an understanding of our legal position, yes. But whether we would choose to enact that position depends on the circumstances.
“Of course you take legal advice in these circumstances. It’s the normal course to do that.”
Speaking on behalf of all 10 A-League clubs, Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin said the vote made it obvious Lowy “has lost the locker room”.
“FIFA has been clear for the last 14 months about what is required,” Griffin said.
“The professional game voted against it, the two major states voted against it.
“Once you lose the locker room in sport, it’s very difficult to get it back.”
Lowy was at pains to emphasise the independence of FFA’s board, especially following Thursday morning’s allegations by the clubs that high-profile board members carried conflicts of interest with Westfield Group the Lowy family.