Remember poor old Ros Kelly copping it for
using a whiteboard to plan $30 million in sports grants largesse? What an
inefficient amateur. These days there’s a much easier way to get millions from
the government for your pet project – if you’re Frank Lowy, you get Alan Jones
to ask John Howard for $12 million and he gives it to you – and more. No
whiteboard involved.

That’s the scandal disclosed by Roy Masters
in Saturday’s Smage among all the self-congratulatory soccer hype. Furthermore, soccer continues
to suck heavily on the Australian Sports Commission teat, coping considerably
more taxpayer money than the other three football codes combined. And Football
Federation Australia owes the Australian Government $4 million which Masters
implies won’t be paid.

Alan Jones, aka the Parrot, is the ASC’s
deputy chairman.

Nearly half of the $2.8 million ASC grant
to FFA for 2005-06 went on Australian Institute of Sport’s soccer program – the
machine that churns out multi-millionaire players for European clubs and, once
every four years, players for the Australian and Croatian World Cup sides.

Where other sports are going wrong in their
attempts to obtain taxpayers’ money is the application process. Here’s how
Masters reports soccer does it, courtesy of an on-air discussion between Jones
and ASC CEO Mark Peters:

Jones also referred to Lowy’s use
of the broadcaster to lean on the Prime Minister, John Howard, for a rescue
package for the sport in 2003.

Jones said: “Frank Lowy said
to me, ‘You must ring the Prime Minister, we need money’.

“I said, ‘Frank, you ring
the Prime Minister’. He said, ‘Oh, that would ruin my friendship’. I said, ‘Oh,
you want to ruin mine?”‘

Peters chuckled and Jones

“So I remember saying to the
Prime Minister ’12 million’ and he said, ‘How much?’ And somehow or other
the $12 million materialised in a grant and a loan – no problems now.”

I wonder if Roy’s brother, Chris Masters, has room in his Jonestown book
for a chapter on that as well.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey