Outgoing Football Federation Australia chair Steven Lowy took a swipe at his detractors as he handed over power on Monday at the organisation’s AGM in Sydney.
Lowy spoke of his board’s ‘Last Supper’, evoked comments from former prime minister Kevin Rudd and dished up some harsh words for critics who suggested the previous FFA board was light on football experience.
“I hear the argument that is fashionable at the moment that there must be more ‘football people’ and fewer ‘suits’ represented on the board,” Lowy said of the election.
“It is a nonsense argument which is hopelessly superficial and naive … typically advocated by people who have had no board or management experience at this level or the heavy responsibility that goes with it.”
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Lowy noted record revenues and distributions during his tenure, congratulating outgoing directors and FFA executives on their work.
He also revealed regrets.
Lowy lamented a failure to progress “a new operating model and expansion of the A-League”, to improve resourcing for junior national teams and not making “more progress on better connecting the grassroots with the professional game”.
Those issues will fall to the new board, comprising newly elected foursome Heather Reid, Chris Nikou, Remo Nogarotto and Joseph Carrozzi, who joined existing directors Kelly Bayer Rosmarin and Crispin Murray in Monday’s ballots.
Mr Nikou was elected as the chair, with Ms Reid to serve as deputy.
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He told ABC that FFA could not be “everything to everybody” but expansion of the A-League was the No.1 priority for the new board to address.
“The less we talk about administrators [the] better. Let’s get back to football … It’s important we put the line in the sand and focus on what we can do,” Nikou said.
Lowy urged the new directors to “act independently and in the best interests of the overall game” in a thinly veiled attack on the pro-reform forces that amended the constitution and forced his demise in recent ballots.
He said the outgoing board had held a ‘Last Supper’ style dinner last month.
In closing remarks, he wryly noted the words of Mr Rudd, who had penned a letter to welcome the newly elected American President Barack Obama in 2008.
“Kevin wrote, ‘Dear Mr President. You poor bastard … infinite expectations. Finite resources’,” Lowy said.
“I don’t think I can improve on that message to the incoming chairman.”