Set­ting the record straight

Fury board mem­bers sue FFA for defama­tion over club’s demise

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport - antony. ste­wart@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

IT’S not about money, it’s about the truth.

If Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia thought the North Queens­land Fury would fade away af­ter their A-League ax­ing, they were sadly mis­taken af t er cl ub Ad­vi­sory Board mem­bers filed a defama­tion law­suit against the Fed­er­a­tion.

Townsville busi­ness iden­ti­ties Ra­bieh Krayem, Sean Knights, Peter Brine and Bren­dan Pick­er­ing filed the suit through Em­anate Legal.

The 14-page doc­u­ment, seen by the Townsville Bul­letin, which con- tains cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the Ad­vi­sory Board and FFA, claims the in­di­vid­u­als had their rep­u­ta­tions tar­nished by the com­ments and ac­tions of FFA.

There are no claims for fi­nan­cial resti­tu­tion, just that FFA come clean with how the club’s ax­ing came about.

Fury main­tain they ex­ceeded the re­quired $ 1.5 mil­lion – list­ing the con­trib­u­tors in the doc­u­ment – stip­u­lated by the gov­ern­ing body as nec­es­sary to ex­tend North Queensl a n d F C ’ s e x i s t e n c e i n t h e A-League, only to be told on de­ci­sion day the money needed to be cap­i­tal, not spon­sor­ship.

The club only had around $ 300,000 in in­vest­ment.

Ad­vi­sory Board mem­bers would not com­ment yes­ter­day, but it is un­der­stood they are will­ing to take the mat­ter to the Supreme Court if they do not re­ceive the re­sponse de­sired – a move that could cost up to $ 50,000.

They are con­fi­dent they have a strong enough case to win. The de­mands are: • A writ­ten letter of apol­ogy to be in­di­vid­u­ally ad­dressed to each mem­ber of the Fury Ad­vi­sory Board.

• A writ­ten pub­lic no­tice to be posted on FFA’s web­site dis­clos­ing the full amount of fund­ing se­cured by the Fury Ad­vi­sory Board ( that is, circa $ 1.6 mil­lion) and for­warded to all the mem­bers on its elec­tronic data­base.

• A press re­lease to the me­dia re­tract­ing mis­lead­ing state­ments made by FFA and cor­rect­ing rel­e­vant er­rors, with the press re­lease to be ap­proved in con­sul­ta­tion be- tween FFA and the Fury Ad­vi­sory Board; and

• A for­mal writ­ten un­der­tak­ing that FFA will not make any fur­ther defam­a­tory re­marks con­cern­ing the Fury Ad­vi­sory Board now or in the fu­ture. FFA have un­til April 7 to re­spond. If the de­mands are not met, the Ad­vi­sory Board will take the law­suit to court.

The defama­tion law­suit is di­rectly aimed at FFA CEO Ben Buck­ley, A-League head Lyall Gor­man and CFO Tony Hal­lam.

The pa­per­work states that it ac­cepts the Fury will no longer be a part of the A-League on fi­nan­cial grounds, but says it is the Ad­vi­sory Board’s be­lief that the FFA’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives mis­led the pub­lic in the club’s per­ceived fail­ure – im­pact­ing neg­a­tively on the quar­tet’s rep­u­ta­tions.

It read: ‘‘( the Ad­vi­sory board) does not ap­pre­ci­ate or con­done the man­ner in which the FFA has com­mu­ni­cated this in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic, and in par­tic­u­lar, failed to men­tion that ap­prox­i­mately $ 1.5 mil­lion worth of cap­i­tal and rev­enue had been raised by the Fury Ad­vi­sory Board for the con­tin­u­a­tion of NQ Fury FC in the 2011/ 12 sea­son’’.

FFA, which took con­trol of NQFC last April af­ter orig­i­nal owner Don Mathe­son was forced to walk away af­ter ma­jor first-sea­son losses, in­stated the Fury Ad­vi­sory Board to raise the re­quired fund­ing to keep the club alive.

The only fi­nances the Ad­vi­sory Board will re­quest should they suc­ceed in the law­suit is fi­nan­cial costs.

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