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CLIVE PALMER...Buckley 'burst out laughing'
FFA CEO Ben Buckley went on the front foot with a television offensive against Clive Palmer's renegade posse and insisted the mining magnate tried to shut down Gold Coast United.
Buckley took to Fox Sports to hit back at some of the allegations made by Palmer at the launch of his new Football Australia pressure group earlier today.
And he branded Palmer's makeshift rebel authority - headed by former FFA A-League supremo Archie Fraser - as laughable.
"I was more than gobsmacked," said Buckley. "When I first saw it, I burst out laughing. It's a bad comedy routine."
The FFA face court action tomorrow in the ongoing row over the immediate future of Gold Coast United to try to have the club play out their final games of the season, starting with this weekend's clash with Wellington Phoenix.
Buckley refused to pre-empt the court decision but said: "We are absolutely focused on the game going ahead on Sunday."
However he stressed that he wanted to dispell some of the claims made earlier in the day by Palmer - and especially the allegation that the FFA had wanted to close the club down.
"It wasn't the FFA that approached Gold Coast United about withdrawing from the A-league," said Buckley. "[Palmer] approached [FFA head of A-League] Lyall [Gorman] to exit at end of this season."
He also took issue with Palmer's claims that the FFA had paid consultants with taxpayers' money to fund bribery and corruption in the bid for the 2022 World Cup bid.
"Hi scomment about the World Cup bid are very serious - we are taking legal advice," stressed Buckley.
"Our accounts were audited on many occasions. The Government was satisified, there is more to come on Mr Palmer's comments."
Despite Palmer's expectations of support from fellow owners, Buckley insisted he had spoken to all the other owners that evening - and none of them supported Palmer's actions.
"Clive owes it to the rest of the owenrship group," he said. "I have spoken to them tonight, they do not support him.
"FFA is the only recognised body by the AFC and FIFA - AFC will issue press release on that tonight. I think we are all bermused."
He said the FFA had spent more time trying to make a success of the Gold Coast than they had done with any other club - but time had run out after Palmer's latest stunt.
"We were pretty worried at an early stage," admitted Buckley. "Our team have spent countless hours working with Clive - I can't think of another club that we have invested more management hours.
"We were left with no other choice."
The priority now for the FFA, he said, was to help the players - mostly youngsters - caught in the middle of the row.
"We have a team working around the clock working with the players...we have said to them today that we will support those contracts," he said.
And he apologised to the dwindling band of fans that had stuck by the club despite the crowd cap and other issues.
He added: "I feel sory for them - they have been very loyal and been treated with some disrespect on many occasions."
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage also came out to publicly distance himself from Palmer and the Gold Coast debacle - and said he hoped it could be solved peacefully soon.
"Our focus is on qualifying for the Hyundai A-League finals," he said. "What happens between the FFA and Mr Clive Palmer is not a priority for our club at this stage of the season.
"We urge both sides to come to a quick conclusion for the sake of the game."
Tonight the AFC backed Buckley with a statement affirming their support for him personally and chairman Frank Lowy, and their official recognition of only the FFA as the sole football authority in Australia.
The statement added: "The AFC confirms that it recognises only FFA as the official affiliated member association representing Australian football in Asia.
"According to the AFC Statutes, only one national association shall be officially recognised in each country by the AFC. Accordingly, the AFC will only recognise and deal with FFA on all football matters concerning Australia.
"The AFC also wishes to acknowledge and underline the AFC’s strong relationship with FFA, its Chairman Frank Lowy, and Chief Executive Officer Ben Buckley."