Grand final sold to Sydney updates, decision won’t change says Danny Townsend

Sportem
Sportem
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A-League boss Danny Townsend has rejected suggestions it was a conflict of interest for Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers officials on the Australian Professional Leagues board to vote on the decision to sell the grand final to Sydney.

Club owners met in Melbourne on Thursday, where it was expected the decision to sell the A-League men’s and women’s grand finals to the NSW government for the next three years for an amount understood to be about $20 million would have been vigorously debated.

While the decision now seems set in stone, at least one A-League club owner has questioned why Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer and his Sydney FC counterpart Scott Barlow weren’t asked to abstain from the original vote.

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Five club representatives are part of the seven-strong APL board.

Of the five who voted on the decision initially, Melbourne Victory’s Anthony Di Pietro has since stood down from the board and will be replaced.

The other four are Lederer, who is the current board chairman, Barlow, Melbourne City’s Simon Pearce and Brisbane Roar’s Chris Fong.

NSW Sport Minister Alister Henskens (left) and A-League boss Danny Townsend shake hands after committing to the deal for grand finals to be played in Sydney. Picture: Mark KolbeSource: Getty Images

Rounding out the seven-person board is a representative of APL investor Silver Lake, and Football Australia representative Ebru Köksal.

Townsend said it was “irrelevant” that Lederer and Barlow were from the Wanderers and Sydney respectively.

“It’s not a conflict of interest,” the APL chief executive officer said.

“Those board members are placed there by the 12 clubs. They’re representing all 12 clubs when they’re making those decisions.”

The board will eventually expand to nine by including two new independent members, one of whom will replace Lederer as chair.

Clubs continued to release statements on Thursday on the decision to sell the grand final to Sydney, rather than stay with the A-League’s traditional way of awarding rights to the decider by giving it to the highest-ranked team.

Adelaide United chairman Piet Van der Pol distanced his club from the decision and called for a “review”.

“Adelaide United was not part of the decision to host each A-League grand final in NSW, as it is one of the Australian professional clubs without a seat on the APL board,” Van der Pol said.

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“As a proud club dedicated to the people of South Australia, we believe the decision has not been made in the best interests of our fans.

“While a democratically made decision cannot be overturned, the process has highlighted the need to review the decision-making processes of the APL.”

Fan boycotts and protests have been organised by supporter groups for this weekend and beyond, but Townsend said the APL wasn’t going to reverse its grand final decision.

“Making easy decisions loses you money. Making hard decisions makes you money – you’ve got to stay the course,” Townsend said.

“We believe that this is going to be good for our game. We believe that the game needs the financial injection to be able to continue to move us forward. We don’t have the luxury of a billion-dollar television deal.

“We all want to see the A-League and football become the number one sport in the country. “We won’t do that while standing still.”

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