‘With a heavy heart’, Steven Lowy has revealed he will stand aside as Football Federation Australia Chairman without seeking re-election.
Mr Lowy will leave his post as Chair in November after three years in the position, bringing a close to his family’s 50-year association with the sport, which has seen the game go from strength to strength in this country.
FULL STATEMENT: From Mr Steven Lowy AM
MEDIA RELEASE: FFA Chairman Lowy announces he will not seek reelection
He announced his decision at a press conference at Football Federation Australia headquarters on Friday morning, and admitted the reasons were based on a number of factors relating to the direction of how football in Australia will be governed.
“I do this with a heavy heart, I’m very proud of what’s been achieved, but I am deeply concerned about the future of the game,” said Mr Lowy.
“I believe that by making this decision I’m showing leadership and I believe that the focus will be on the correct issues going forward.”
Serving the game
Questioned on whether he felt criticism of his time in the position became personal, Mr Lowy emphasised that his departure would ensure football’s future has the best opportunity to flourish.
“I think parts of it have [become personal],” he said. “From time to time through the debate, I think those of our critics have used the personal side of it to cloud the main issues – in terms of myself or the board looking to cling on to power.
“I’ve said probably 50 times there's nothing further from the truth. I only do this job because I love the game and I want to serve our national interest. I only want to do those under conditions which are appropriate and where I can succeed and act as an independent chair.
“I want to remove myself from that debate and that’s why I’m making this decision now.”
“I only do this job because I love the game and I want to serve our national interest.”
Supporting national teams and grassroots
Mr Lowy spoke openly about his belief that the current recommendations from a FIFA congress review would affect the resources required to fund the national team and grassroots programs.
“All of the behaviour I have seen since I’ve been Chairman and particularly in the last couple of years would lead me to suggest that the clubs would like to take a much larger share of the revenues of the game,” he said.
“I know our board is very high calibre, I know our management team is very high calibre. Within our constraints, we maximise the revenues that are available.
“They fundamentally believe, and they say this publicly, that they produce a large part of the revenue of the game and they should get a large share of the game.
“By definition, the national teams and the grassroots will miss out and that’s who we’re trying to protect here.”
A sense of pride
Reflecting on his tenure as FFA chair, Mr Lowy stated his pride for the board’s independent values, as well as the recent successes of the Caltex Socceroos and Westfield Matildas and the finances of the FFA, which are distributed to the game.
“There are many avenues which I’m proud about but of course that’s balanced with the environment within the congress,” he said.
“Had there been a different environment, we probably would have had a new operating model, we probably would have had an expanded A-League and that would have led to strengthening the foundations for growth.
“You do what is within your power and you do the best with the issues that are not within your power – but I’d say, overall, I’m very proud of the last three years for the FFA.”
Where Mr Lowy sees the next steps for Australian football is unclear but he insists the best direction would be for an independent Football Federation Australia board to remain intact.
“The future is unclear with regards to the congress, what congress model there will be,” he added. “I wanted to remove myself from that debate, but I want to argue passionately for the future independence of the FFA board.
“By making this decision and by removing myself from the debate, I believe the true issues will get aired and then the members will make decisions with the full information at hand.”