FOOTBALL Federation Australia has failed to avert an Asian Football Confederation coup that saw the A-League Asian Champions League spots slashed to just one direct place and one play-off.
The overhaul means only Central Coast Mariners are guaranteed a spot in the group stage of the competition, while Brisbane Roar will have to compete in a play-off qualifier.
Perth Glory - who had hoped to play in this year's qualifiers after losing out in the grand final - miss out entirely next seaso, sparking anger at the club.
On the club's official Twitter account, owner and chairman Tony Sage blasted: "I am absolutely gutted and the whole process is a joke."
And Melbourne Heart's John Didiluca branded the decision a "disgrace".
The FFA had sent a diplomatic mission to Kuala Lumpur in a bid to defuse the row before it happened with meetings earlier in the day aimed at averting the new rules.
But they were unable to find enough backing and the revised places were confirmed this evening.
The AFC officially confirmed the details as Japan gets 4 spots, Korea Republic 4, China 4, Uzbekistan 1, Australia 1+1, Thailand 1+1, Saudi Arabia 4, Qatar 4, Iran 3+1, UAE 2+2, Uzbekistan 1+1.
The official announcement included Uzbekistan twice, once in the East zone with Australia, and again in the West zone with Saudi. Further clarification on this is being sought.
The decision has sparked outrage online with much of the anger focused on Qatar which has four direct placesin the ACL for its 12-team league in a nation with a smaller population than Brisbane.
Head of the Hyundai A-League, Damien de Bohun tonight said that the FFA was disappointed at the outcome and would be looking to restore the previous ACL allocation in the future.
“It’s important for us to maintain a strong presence in the ACL through the Central Coast Mariners’ direct participation and the strong prospect of Brisbane Roar also qualifying," he said.
“Our real focus and that of our clubs this year is the Hyundai A-League, the consolidation of the 10 team competition and continuing to build on the exciting start to this season.”
Brisbane Roar today added that they would make the best of the situation.
“While we are disappointed not to have direct entry into the group stage, we are excited to still be a part of the competition," they said.
"We are yet to be advised of how the play-off will be structured, but we expect this will be made clear at the AFC Champions League draw in Kuala Lumpur next week.
"Until this time we will continue our Hyundai A-League campaign and preparations for the ACL as we have been to-date.”"