You know that guy who just won't shut up no matter how clear it is to everyone around him that he desperately needs to? Apparently that guy is Clive Palmer, the current or former, or who knows what owner of Gold Coast United. The A-League club was axed from the league today by Football Federation Australia (FFA) thanks to the actions of their owner, although it is tough to be the owner of a club that may not exist anymore.
Palmer has never been particularly fond of football and certainly did not get along well with the leadership of the A-League. His problem was taking the criticism public. The owner thought it smart to call the sport of football "a hopeless game" and the A-League "a joke."
''If we wanted to stay [in the A-League] and they [FFA] wanted to take it [the license] off us, they'd all be in court, and [FFA CEO] Ben Buckley would run a thousand miles. That's the reality of it. They can say what they like … the A-League's a joke. I don't think I'll ever talk to Ben again in my life, to be honest.''
The FFA was not to happy about it so they made a public statement that was the diplomatic version of "shut up." Palmer didn't and eventually Palmer and FFA president Frank Lowy got into a public war of words over a couple weeks. This being Palmer, he wasn't going to just stop with words. He just took it a step further, putting "Freedom of Speech" across the front of Gold Coast's shirt in place of their sponsor.
Palmer tried to cover it up by calling it a tribute to refugees, but that would be in violation of FIFA rules barring political statements on shirts -- or really anywhere in the game -- and he violated league rules by making the change without informing the FFA beforehand.
Attempted excuse or not, Palmer was in hot water. He probably could not have ever imagined how hot that water was, but he found out when his club was stripped of its license.
The FFA release on the matter listed three reasons for Gold Coast losing their license:
1. A conscious and deliberate contravention of FFA Policies and Procedures.
2. Deliberate defiance of a direction that was given by FFA; and
3. Repeated public statements made by or on behalf of Gold Coast United that bring the A-League, FFA and the game of football into disrepute and are prejudicial to the interests of FFA, the A-League and the game of football in Australia.
The FFA did say that they would work to allow Gold Coast to finish the season by paying the players themselves and allowing them to continue, but exactly how that would all play out wasn't yet clear and of course the fun wasn't done yet. Lowy chimed in with the reasoning for the action.
"The material breach on Saturday night was followed by a statement from the club that it intended to continue using the slogan," said Lowy. "This behavior came on top of public comments that displayed a total lack of respect for football and the millions of Australians who love the game.
"Such disrespectful behavior, a flagrant disregard for the rules and a stated intent to continue breaking the rules made for an intolerable situation. As custodians of the game, we had to act to protect the integrity of the Hyundai A-League on behalf of the other nine clubs, players, coaches and most importantly, the fans."
Of course, Palmer would not let things die like that. He went to Twitter to say that he would fight the decision in court, but he had a shot at Lowy too.
"We intend to fight this ludicrous decision by incompetent FFA in the courts. Frank Lowy is an institution who now belongs in an institution," read Palmer's tweet.
At the very least, the A-League has made headlines, but the young league in a fight with rugby union, rugby league and cricket in Australia probably didn't want to make it this way. And with Palmer threatening legal action it looks unlikely that this story will leave the headlines anytime soon.