Club presidents call for meeting with Capital Football board
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Club presidents call for meeting with Capital Football board

Canberra's premier league club presidents have called for a meeting with the Capital Football board to discuss chairman Mark O'Neill's controversial governance stance as well as the governing body's decision to introduce a second division next year.

At the time of writing, the presidents hadn't received a response from Capital Football, but there was confidence it could go ahead as early as Monday or Tuesday.

Capital Football have been under siege on multiple fronts in recent weeks, including a backlash from disgruntled referees sick of the abuse they were receiving.

The club presidents want to meet with Capital Football chairman Mark O'Neill and his board to discuss their concerns.

The club presidents want to meet with Capital Football chairman Mark O'Neill and his board to discuss their concerns.Credit:Graham Tidy

Again there was silence from their headquarters with neither chief executive Phil Brown or O'Neill returning Fairfax Media's calls on Sunday.

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O'Neill has caused concern amongst the club presidents with his decision to seemingly block FIFA's proposed restructure of Football Federation Australia's governance because it could reduce the board's independence.

They're also concerned about Brown's decision to introduce an NPL2 competition next year, despite moves in place for the FFA to conduct a review of the premier league structure around the country.

It's meant discussions have taken place behind the scenes of the clubs potentially pushing for a vote of no confidence in O'Neill, but that's seen as a drastic measure and a last resort.

It would also mean the clubs would need to lobby one of the people who can propose such a motion - the six Capital Football directors, the five chairs of the premier league standing advisory committee and the eight regional representatives.

First the clubs want to give Capital Football the chance to meet and discuss their concerns.

"We're seeking a meeting with the full Capital Football board and we're seeking some answers to some of the things that have been aired publicly around the NPL2 competition," Tuggeranong United president Jon Thiele said.

"But also the congress review working group and the recommendations and the stance that Mark O'Neill has taken on behalf of football clubs in Canberra."

One of those concerns was around the proposed governance reforms of the FFA from the FIFA-mandated congress review working group.

An extraordinary general meeting has been called for October 2 where a vote will take place to endorse the reforms.

If they are voted down then FIFA could step in by either sacking the FFA board or banning Australia from international competition.

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Only three federations need to vote "no" to block them, with Capital Football believed to be one of four federations - along with northern NSW, Tasmania and the Northern Territory -

currently opposed.

It has clubs concerned Canberra could be isolated if the FFA board changes.

"We all want what's best for football in Canberra, we just need to find some middle ground on what the best is," Thiele said.

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"We believe the right thing to do on the congress review working group elements is to vote with the bloc on this front.

"The art of politics is compromise and we need to ensure the FFA are the ones who are enabled to make the decisions.

"Once a normalisation committee comes in that's taken out of our hands. And mark my words that will occur if the extraordinary general meeting doesn't go as FIFA would expect it to."

The other area of concern for Canberra clubs is the introduction of the NPL2, which will see relegation and promotion introduced next year.

It means more referees and coaches will need to be accredited at the higher level required for premier league competitions.

"Some of the clubs have concerns and that's all it is. It's more questions as to how it's actually going to be working," Cooma president Harry Hovasapian said.

"That's one of the issues. How exactly will this be managed? I have questions for Capital Football in regards to the NPL2 and I'm waiting to hear some answers."

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.