The weekend meeja has
followed-up our praise for Frank Lowy’s role in the rise of Australian
football. And sure, Lowy and his henchman John O’Neill deserve a lot of the
credit for the speed and skill with which they’ve transformed the sport – but most of the
media has forgotten some important things. Take this woeful gush piece in
Friday’s Australian: “Hail Soccer’s Saviour.”
Lowy and O’Neill would not be there, and wouldn’t have had the platform for
reform, without the intervention of the Government and the Australian Sports
Commission which established and drove the 2003 review of soccer by corporate
governance specialist David Crawford.
Lowy was most cautious – reluctant,
even – to become the saviour of the code and played hardball on getting his own
personally chosen board. But more than that, he played hardball on finances and
demanded and got a $15 million package from the Government to fund the
It’s disappointing that a credulous media this morning seem to
believe that Lowy paid for the process out of his own pocket, or through
sponsorship – he didn’t. It’s taxpayers dough in the form of grants and loans,
and the Australian taxpayer should take a bow for allowing its hard earned to
be spent on revitalising what was a basketcase of a sporting code.
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course, money isn’t everything and Lowy deserves the credit for knowing how to
spend it wisely.
But while Frank was basking in the glory of using other
peoples’ money to buy success (with Kerry O’Brien, no less), where
was the man whose work laid the foundations for our World Cup glory? The
consultant who set the sport on the road to recovery, David Crawford, didn’t
have his snout in the Telstra stadium trough VIP suites; he was in the general
corporate bar watching the match with all the other be-suited