- Ends turbulent period as A-League boss
- Oversight of failed decision to sell grand final which was canceled
- Was in charge when fans invaded the pitch during the Melbourne derby
- He will occupy rich positions in the Middle East
The man who tried to sell the A-League grand final to the highest bidder before an embarrassing reversal has left the Australian competition to take a job in the Middle East.
The Australian professional leagues, which run the A-League, have confirmed the departure of their CEO Danny Townsend.
Townsend’s tenure included the controversial and controversial decision to sell the A-League grand final hosting rights to the New South Wales government.
After just a year, the deal was scrapped this week and replaced with a contract for a full series of men’s and women’s A-League matches, played over one weekend in Sydney for the next two seasons.
Following a wave of disapproval from fans, the Australian Premier Leagues (ALM and ALW) have decided to return to their traditional format where the most qualified team is granted the right to host the grand final.
Despite a turbulent period at the helm of the A-League, Danny Townsend believes he left it in good shape
Townsend with officials and young fans at the Unite Round announcement which will replace the abandoned idea of selling the A-League grand final to the highest bidder
A-League commissioner Nick Garcia to take on CEO role until permanent replacement can be found
The move follows a controversial three-year, $12 million deal with Destination NSW, which initially saw the rights to host the grand final sold.
Fans expressed their displeasure when this deal was first announced, leading to a complete turnaround.
Townsend was also in charge during the infamous crowd invasion during the 2022 Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City derby.
Thousands of fans invaded the pitch and City goalkeeper Thomas Glover was attacked with a trash can smashed in his face, with both clubs receiving heavy sanctions.
As has been discussed for several weeks, Townsend left the PLA for a new job in the Middle East.
The APL will now be led by A-League commissioner Nick Garcia and chief executive of football site KeepUp James Rushton.
Both men will report to APL President Stephen Conroy.
“The APL has experienced extraordinary growth in just two and a half years under Danny’s leadership, and we thank him for his service to football in Australia and New Zealand, both as CEO of the APL and before that as CEO of Sydney FC,” Conroy said.
Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover is escorted off the field with a bleeding head after being hit with a trash can during the 2022 Melbourne derby.
In wild scenes, thousands of A-League supporters invaded the pitch with several arrests and heavy penalties handed out.
“Danny leaves the game stronger than ever and with a talented and committed management team in place. We wish him every success in his new role,” Conroy continued.
“As the organization enters its next phase of development, we welcome the joint leadership of two highly experienced global sports leaders and passionate football fans, Nick Garcia and James Rushton.
“Each of their appointments was the product of extensive search processes that resulted in the creation of an incredibly strong APL executive leadership team.”
Despite the unpopular decision to sell out the grand final which was subsequently cancelled, Townsend said his time at the helm had been a success.
“We have made incredible progress over the last three years and I am extremely proud of what we have achieved as independent leagues,” Townsend said.
“I will always feel privileged to have had this opportunity to serve the game I love. I really look forward to seeing it continue to grow at this rate.