Hunt starts for new FFA boss
IT'S the biggest job in Australian football, with a seven-figure salary and oversight of everything from the Socceroos to the U6s in your local park.
But as a Melbourne-based headhunting firm seeks what will be Football Federation Australia's fourth chief executive, to succeed David Gallop by December, major questions are being asked about what the role should entail - and who should get it.
The successor to Gallop, whose pay package is $1.2m plus bonuses, will have no oversight of the A-League and its clubs after the latter's owners fought for and secured autonomy from the game's governing body.
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With a radically reduced income, FFA's board of directors have sought to sketch out how the role will be different, and the skills that will be needed to help rejuvenate a game that has struggled increasingly for several years.
For the first time, the board has signalled it intends to recruit a CEO with experience of and love for football. It is a role in a state of flux, and part of the brief that recruitment firm Russell Reynolds has had is to engage with potential candidates over how it will unfold in the post-A-League era.
Importantly the new CEO will be expected to source extra funding, via government in particular, as the bulk of FFA's current income switches to the independent A-League.
A swath of male and female national teams will need funding, with the Olyroos and Matildas both approaching qualifying tournaments for the Olympics in the short term and every age group needing more games in the long run.
The new CEO will have to plan relations with the state bodies, with calls in some quarters for them to be abolished and replaced with a single national structure - something the states themselves will likely fight tooth and nail.
Relations around the world are also a key focus, especially in Asia. Then there is the major issue of a potential national second division, currently the subject of a board-led working party.
Up to 10 candidates are believed to be in the running for the role and in recent weeks, half a dozen of these have been mentioned repeatedly - as either interested in the role or targeted by headhunters.
Some, such as Tony Pignata and Peter Filopoulos, have largely domestic-focused backgrounds. Three have spent time at the players' association (PFA), while three have worked overseas for years.
Who the right candidate is will be partly a result of how the FFA board defines the role. The international engagement is significant, and both Brendan Schwab and James Johnson have extensive experience in sports diplomacy.
Equally, questions have been asked as to whether either would be tempted back to Australia, with Johnson having left FIFA to join the City Group in a senior role only 10 months ago and Schwab holding a powerful position representing some 85,000 athletes.
Didulica offers the perspective of having worked in clubland, as a players' advocate and at FFA, while Filopoulos has targeted government relations to boost funding for facilities in Victoria.
Pignata can point to club success, while Peter Abraam shapes as the external dark horse - a former player and fan, but who has worked outside the game.
With the headwinds buffeting the sport showing no sign of abating, getting the right leader with a palpable sense of confidence in the game is a vital decision.