Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Chief Executive Brendan Schwab today reiterated the players’ concerns over the A-League Disciplinary Regulations and called for Football Federation Australia (FFA) to restore a player’s right to natural justice as a matter of urgency.
The PFA’s call follows a statement issued yesterday by FFA CEO Ben Buckley that the system would again be reviewed as part of FFA’s “consultative process”.  However, any changes will not take effect until next season.

The PFA regards FFA’s consultative process with the players in the lead up to the current A-League season as unsatisfactory.  It entailed:

1.    FFA sent a revised set of A-League Disciplinary Regulations to the PFA less than 3 weeks before the first game of the season requesting a response within 48 hours.

2.    The PFA responded as requested rejecting proposed changes that would deny players’ their right to a fair hearing and natural justice.  This was because:

(a)    The draft regulations gave the Match Review Panel the power to cite players, charge players for incidents that escaped the referee’s attention and deal with simulation by imposing a mandatory penalty without a hearing and without any appeal rights.

(b)    The changes were unnecessary as the reforms introduced with the agreement of the PFA in time for the 2008/2009 A-League season were clearly achieving their goal of promoting fair play, with red cards actually falling last season despite the longer season:
Player Expulsions (Red Cards)

Players Suspended Because of Yellow Card Accumulation
38 (accrual of 4 yellow cards)
10 (5 yellow cards)

3.    In the week prior to the season beginning, the FFA wrote to the PFA to advise that FFA did not agree with the PFA’s position, negotiations had broken down and FFA would unilaterally implement the changes.

“This approach to consultation is disturbing,” Schwab said.

“At no point has FFA been able to explain why it needs to deny players a right to a fair hearing.  It is legally impermissible and clearly not justified from a football point of view.

“No-one wants the threat of legal action over our sport.  However, FFA must respect the basic legal rights of players in order for that threat to disappear,” Schwab added.
The PFA welcomes FFA’s commitment to review the system and will participate in any review. However, the PFA sees no reason why an appeals right cannot be introduced immediately.
“The only thing that FFA will lose by introducing a review process is a decision of the Match Review Panel that needs to be overturned,” Schwab concluded.