Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has responded to remarks made by former A-League boss Archie Fraser in today’s edition of the Townsville Bulletin.
PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab said that the PFA has always supported the Fury’s continued participation in the A-League, but that Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) and Fraser’s decision to terminate last season’s Fury players’ contracts after a corporate restructure of the club could not be ignored.
“The PFA, of course, has fully supported the effort of the football community to secure North Queensland Fury’s ongoing participation in the A-League”, said Schwab.” The players’ performances in difficult circumstances show just how professional and committed all A-League players are.
“However, with 5 points from 3 games and one home crowd of 5,177, it is far too early for the A-League to declare victory in North Queensland.  Victory will be achieved when the club is financially sustainable and regularly attracting crowds of 10,000.
“What cannot be condoned is Mr Fraser’s unilateral decision to spill all player contracts at Fury last season.  His decision, fully backed by FFA, cannot be justified on financial or footballing grounds.  It has resulted in all A-League players justifiably worrying about the security of their contracts.  FFA’s conduct at Fury left 5 contracted players unemployed, 3 of whom were suffering from long-term injuries.  Players who had relocated to Townsville on multi-year deals were abandoned even though some had purchased local property and moved their children into local schools.  The family lives and football careers of several players have been dislocated.
Schwab said that the FFA’s and Fraser’s conduct in unilaterally terminating player contracts has become a colossal concern for all A-League players.
“The logical extension of Mr Fraser’s comments is that all A-League clubs should be free to restructure and spill all player contracts for financial reasons and to boost performance.  This conduct is not tolerated anywhere in the football world or indeed in any Australian workplace.
“The legal action instigated by the PFA and Robbie Fowler to prevent a reoccurrence of this behavior has the full support of all A-League players.  Contract security is now without doubt the number one industrial issue in the A-League in the upcoming collective bargaining negotiations.”
The PFA’s and Fowler’s legal action against the FFA is shaping up to be a landmark case for players’ fundamental rights – their right to contractual security.