‘Freedom of Speech’ attack on FFA

Clive Palmer has launched a fresh attack on Football Federation Australia by buying up a huge amount of advertising and signage at Hunter Stadium to promote his “Freedom of Speech” message during Friday night’s A-League clash between Newcastle and Gold Coast United.

The latest development in Palmer’s feud with the FFA has the warring parties on a collision course yet again with the A-League set to ban Palmer from advertising inside the Newcastle venue under FIFA rules which forbid all political and religious messages as they are allowed to do under their licence agreement with all A-League venues.

The A-League only has the power to shut down advertising in stadiums if the signage violates the FIFA terms.

As of Wednesday night A-League officials had yet to see the artwork for the signage.

Palmer has been involved in a war of words with FFA chairman Frank Lowy that resulted in the governing body stripping him of the licence to run the Gold Coast A-League club. He then failed to get an injunction in the Queensland Supreme Court on to stop the FFA from reassuming control of the bottom-placed team.

Hunter Sports Group, the sports arm of billionaire Nathan Tinkler’s empire, including the Jets and Newcastle Knights, is responsible for selling the advertising around Hunter Stadium and issued a statement to say Palmer’s extraordinary approach is being treated like every other advertising case.

“The Newcastle Jets have been contacted by Clive Palmer to purchase match day signage for this Friday night’s game,” the statement said.

“The Jets are yet to receive the artwork, but once the club does, it will be sent to the FFA for approval.

“This is standard procedure for any sponsor who buys signage.”

It threatens to turn the game, where the Jets can potentially cement a finals spot, into a farce, but A-League officials privately believe it is nothing more than a publicity stunt from Palmer.

Even the head of Palmer’s Football Australia organisation Archie Fraser did not know Palmer had purchased the signage.

A-League boss Lyall Gorman confirmed the Hunter Sports Group had not sent any proposed advertisements to the A-League for approval.

“A-League regulations require central approval for any changes to the signage grid but at this stage no documentation has been received by our Events or Commercial team,” he said.

Palmer was stripped of his A-League licence over a string of controversies and breaches of contract – including a failure to rectify the controversial “freedom of speech” slogans on Gold Coast’s uniforms.

A-League Ladder

P

W

D

L

GD

Pts

1 Central Coast 24 13 6 5 15 45
2 Brisbane 24 12 6 6 20 42
3 Wellington 24 12 3 9 6 39
4 Perth 24 11 4 9 5 37
5 Heart 24 9 7 8 1 34
6 Newcastle 24 10 4 10 -1 34
7 Sydney 24 8 7 9 -7 31
8 Victory 24 5 11 8 -8 26
9 Adelaide 24 5 8 11 -17 23
10 Gold Coast 24 3 8 13 -14 17

Round 23 – as at 00:00 AM, 04/03/12

by Buford Balony

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