Frank Lowy (left) is a regular on Australia's rich list.
Frank Lowy (left) is a regular on Australia's rich list. www.footballaustralia.com.au

Lowy’s the man behind rise of the Socceroos

SOCCEROOS coach Ange Postecoglou is quite rightly getting the plaudits for guiding Australia to its first international football trophy.

But the man who should get a fair share of the credit is Frank Lowy - because without the billionaire businessman, Australian football would not be in the position to provide the talent for a national team to shine on a world stage.

When Lowy was elected chairman of the newly formed Football Federation Australia in 2003, the game in this country was quite simply on its knees.

The once-thriving National Soccer League, set up after the Socceroos' qualification for the 1974 World Cup, was in decline as Australian players looked to further their careers overseas.

There was also a failed television deal with Channel 7 which threw the game into turmoil and turned sponsors away.

After a government-led review into the state of the game in April 2003, the Crawford Report, released in December the same year found the NSL was financially unviable.

Lowy led the way forward, heading up a task force, and two years later the A-League was born.

That for me was the first step to producing a national team which had the chance to compete on the world stage.

And with the advent of the A-League in 2005, came almost instant success.

Some might say the so-called 'golden generation' came along because Australian players sought to better themselves on the football fields of Europe.

But Lowy's vision of a national league to produce players who could play at the highest level was a long-term plan, not a short-term solution, and Saturday night's Asian Cup final win over South Korea saw his plan finally bear fruit.

If you look at the team and squad which Postecoglou put together for the finals, you will see that a number have made or are still making their names in the national competition.

All up, 16 members of the squad played in our national competition, with some, including Mathew Leckie, Trent Sainsbury, Mile Jedinak, Robbie Kruse, Ivan Franjic, James Troisi and Mat Ryan, moving overseas

And if the competition continues to grow in strength, then more A-League players could soon find their way into Postecoglou's squad for the World Cup qualifiers later this year.

There has been talk that some would like Lowy, who is 84, to step down from the FFA chairman's role.

I say if ain't broke why fix it - he seems like he's still doing a pretty decent job to me.

But if he does decide to pull the pin, he can go safe in the knowledge that along with Postecoglou and his players, he has restored the reputation of Australian football which hit pretty low depths while overseas coaches Pim Verbeek and Holger Osieck were in charge.

Maybe Prime Minister Tony Abbott should have handed a knighthood to Lowy instead of the Queen's husband.

Only a thought.



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