A fuming Griffin claimed clubs are stridently opposed to FFA’s decision to introduce a ‘four plus one’ quota rule for the 2018-19 season, and accused the governing body of acting on political motivations.
The impending change, confirmed by FFA chief executive David Gallop and subject to final review at the end of 2017-18, will not impact clubs’ current quota of five foreigners but means one of those players must come from an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) members federation.
It will move Australia’s top tier in line with other AFC competitions and force A-League clubs to scour the continent for talent.
“There is strident objection from the clubs to any change to the existing visa rules,” Griffin said.
“That objection will remain; we see absolutely no point in going 4+1 and compromising the product we provide in some attempt to curry favour with the AFC.
“It’s ultimately a fruitless exercise because the problems between FFA and the AFC run far deeper than the composition of our visa players.”
The concept has long caused friction.
FFA is keen to align with Asian football, where the Asian Champions League operates on a 3+1 rule, while attracting more interest from overseas TV markets.
But only two clubs – Western Sydney and Newcastle – currently have an Asian player on their books and there’s concern the move would dilute the league’s growing quality, with the continent’s ever-inflating wages rendering it tough to afford top Asian stars.
“That is in no small way due to the completely insufficient distribution of revenues that have flowed to the clubs under the FFA administration which is now the subject of review,” Griffin said.
It’s understood FFA discussed the issue at length with chairmen last October, before telling CEOs at a meeting in Melbourne the following month.
There was a mixed response but strong enough collective opposition that FFA promised to “prudently review the implementation” at the end of the 2017-18 season before making a final decision.
Griffin said that “unsatisfactory” compromise would not be accepted and foreshadowed a response from the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, which represents all 10 clubs and of which he is chair.
Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata called for more dialogue on the issue.
“It has been suggested but nothing formal has come from FFA advising clubs that it is being introduced,” Pignata said.
“We as clubs would still like the opportunity to discuss this proposal with FFA.”
The news comes amid reports the Chinese Football Association is set to reduce to three the number of foreign players Chinese Super League teams are allowed to field in each match.
The pending rule change has already delayed James Holland’s transfer from the Reds to Liaoning Whowin and could threaten the careers of other Australian players in China.
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