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Tense A-League meeting over Sydney finals sale

A-League owners will meet in Melbourne on Thursday following the competition’s controversial decision to sell the hosting rights to the men’s and women’s grand final to Sydney for the next three years.

Adelaide United is reported to have voted against the FFA's Sydney finals deal at a special meeting of A-League clubs. Photo: Adelaide United Football Club

Adelaide United is reported to have voted against the FFA's Sydney finals deal at a special meeting of A-League clubs. Photo: Adelaide United Football Club

On top of the agenda will be appointing a new club-affiliated director to the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) board, which lost Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro after his resignation on Tuesday.

The APL’s seven-person board voted on the decision to hand over the grand finals to Sydney for a total sum estimated to be close to $20 million over three years.

The deal with Destination NSW is understood to include some cash set aside for advertising, contra, and the cost of hosting the Warren-Dolan Medal night.

But the APL board – which is chaired by Western Sydney owner Paul Lederer and contains a representative from Football Australia, private equity partners Silver Lake and ALM clubs Melbourne City, Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar – did not anticipate the immense public scrutiny which followed.

Talks of boycotts, protests and walk-outs at games this weekend forced the APL into calling a meeting with 12 club bosses on Tuesday night.

It is understood that at Tuesday’s vote with the 12 clubs there was an 8-3 split in favour of the decision.

Perth owner Tony Sage explained in a statement on Wednesday that he had been travelling to Melbourne ahead of Thursday’s meeting and was unable to participate in Tuesday’s vote.

Adelaide United, Western United and Melbourne Victory were the three dissenting voices, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

The APL was forced to retract a statement late on Tuesday with signatures from the representatives of each of the 12 clubs, before re-publishing an altered version which only contained Lederer’s name.

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Adelaide chairman Piet Van der Pol said on Wednesday that “the process has highlighted the need to review the decision-making processes of the APL”.

Part of that is believed to be the make-up of the board which is expected to be a subject of scrutiny when the clubs meet on Thursday.

Some have privately voiced concern that Lederer – and Sydney chairman Scott Barlow, who also sits on the APL board – were given the right to take part in the initial vote when the decision could be seen to benefit their respective clubs.

The doubling down has angered fans, players and former coaches with ex-Adelaide and Sydney FC manager John Kosmina claiming the APL had “sold its soul”.

“What are they going to spend it on, that’s what I want to know,” he told AAP.

“It’s annoyed me how they’ve tried to spin it in saying it’s (not) a financial decision.

“If you need money then fine, but we get enough bulls**t from politicians.”

-AAP

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