Gold Coast kicked out of A-League
Football Federation Australia have kicked Gold Coast United out of the A-League after a furious row with the club's owner, billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer.
The decision, which will take effect from the end of the season, followed a recent outburst when Palmer labelled the league "a joke" and his club as "insignificant".
Fellow billionaire and Australian soccer chief Frank Lowy attacked Palmer for his "illogical, confused and damaging" comments while slamming the team for wearing jerseys that said "Freedom of Speech" during their last game.
Lowy, who has been chairman of shopping centre giant Westfield for 50 years and has a A$4.98 billion fortune - marginally less than Palmer's - said he was left with no alternative but to terminate the Gold Coast licence. It will leave the A-League with just nine teams.
"As custodians of the game, we had to act to protect the integrity of the Hyundai A-League on behalf of the other nine clubs, players, coaches and most importantly, the fans," he said.
Gold Coast, bottom of the domestic competition, had its licence taken away due to contraventions of FFA policies, deliberate defiance of an FFA direction and repeated public statements that brought the game into disrepute.
Lowy said he made repeated attempts Wednesday to talk directly with Palmer about a smooth completion of the season for the sake of the other teams, but they went unanswered.
"The FFA will do everything possible within its power to see the players see out the season on the pitch," he said, but added that Sunday's match against the Phoenix in Wellington may have to be postponed.
Gold Coast have four games left to play.
Lowy said he was sad and disappointed that it had to come this, but added: "We can't let anybody thumb their noses at us saying 'we're going to do what we want to do but I want to stay'."