SYDNEY, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Football Federation Australia elected lawyer Chris Nikou as its new chairman on Monday, bringing an end to 15 transformative years in which the Lowy family have held the post.
Frank Lowy, the billionaire founder of the Westfield shopping centre empire, held the position from 2003 until he handed over in 2015 to his son Steven, who said last month he would be standing down.
Lowy senior centralised control as he helped drag the game from its position as the poor relation of winter football codes to its current strength.
Football is now the nation’s most popular team sport in terms of participants, although its share of broadcast revenues and gate receipts remains trifling next to the dominant codes of Australian Rules and rugby league.
Steven Lowy signed off on Monday with speech in which he called on the newly elected board to continue to build the game, while also launching a broadside at those who have called for a change in the type of person who runs the game Down Under.
“I hear the argument that is fashionable at the moment that there must be more “football people” and fewer “suits” represented on the board,” he said.
“It is a nonsense argument which is hopelessly superficial and naive. Football is about passion. We all get that. Those of us in this room who have played it, lived and breathed it, know that.
“But passion is not enough. Football is also a serious business and it therefore demands skills and experience beyond just the game.” (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)