Star player Nicky Carle and Matthew Thompson have been banished from training with the rest of the squad indefinitely as the bitter crisis at Sydney FC threatens to the tear the club further apart.
In another sign of growing disharmony surrounding the Sky Blues, the two veteran midfielders were ordered to train alone by coach Frank Farina for tactical dissent against the coaching staff during Saturday night's 3-0 loss to Adelaide United.
Fairfax Media understands the pair have been dismissed from regular training after they disobeyed tactical instructions from Farina and Rado Vidosic when introduced as substitutes at half-time on Saturday. Carle, who has been growing frustrated with forced to play out of position under the tenure of Farina, is said to have swapped positions with Thompson when brought on to the field which undermined the leadership and authority of Farina.
A club source confirmed the pair were immediately disciplined by Farina on Monday morning and it's not known when or if they will be allowed to rejoin their teammates. Former marquee man Carle, 32, is considered a leader within the squad and captained the squad already this season in the absence of marquee Alessandro Del Piero.
Their punishment for dissent against the coaching staff occurred less than two days after a fan revolt at Allianz Stadium on Saturday overshadowed the disappointment of their third consecutive home loss. Former club directors, who wish to remain nameless, informed Fairfax Media they were not surprised to see the club embroiled in such a significant fall-out with their fans and subsequent poor performances. Former employees in the football department fear that some player's progression has been stunted in recent years due to the performance of the coaching stuff while others have accused of failing to replace senior departed staff members at administrative and football levels over the past two seasons. ''Football is not business, football is a very unusual thing which a lot of people make the mistake that you run it like you run any company, but that doesn't work,'' A former club administrator told Fairfax Media.
Sydney's former chief executive Edwin Lugt took to social media to vent his anger at the performance of the club and launched a stinging attack against their current administration. ''Sydney FC: just incredible how one arrogant and totally incompetent individual can destroy a club. And no, it's not the coach,'' Lugt tweeted on Saturday night.
Now chairman of Dutch Eredivisie club, Go Ahead Eagles, Lugt later wrote: ''A club should be built around football, not on egos. A vision, a football philosophy must be leading. No opportunistic coach and player recruitment. Stick to the plan. Build a culture and be transparent. Youth development. Money can't buy all. Look at CCM [Central Coast Mariners] and Brisbane [Roar].''
Fairfax Media understands that Sydney FC hierarchy has dismissed suggestions they are enduring a crisis and are adamant the club has never been in a stronger position in terms of members, sponsorship and revenue streams. The club is also understood to be buoyed by the performance of its youth team - winning the National Youth League title with three games to spare - and the W-League side which won last season's title. A senior club official acknowledged the poor performance of the senior men's football team - which continues to frustrate the board - and believes its poor showing in the A-League in recent years is the point of anger for the fans.
A spokesman for the club's official supporter group ''The Cove'' said the mass exodus and subsequent protests during Saturday night's 3-0 loss to Adelaide United was not in response to the team's results, rather the performance of the club's administrators and management. Club relations with The Cove remain in tatters after the weekend's fall-out though their active supporter group says its anger is not directed towards the team, rather the directors of Sydney FC.
''Everything we do is for the best interest for the club. Our actions are not about the quality of football but the absence of leadership within the club. We want the players to know that this is not about them,'' Cove spokesman Grant Muir said. It is understood Sydney FC have requested a meeting with the senior Cove figures to try to restore their fractured relationship before Saturday's match at home to Perth.