Craig Foster has withdrawn from the race to lead the Football Federation Australia (FFA) board.

Foster, a former Australia captain and head of the country’s footballers’ union, was the popular choice to lead FFA following the resignation of Steven Lowy.

The 55-year-old published a manifesto that promised rejuvenation and reform but withdrew late on Friday citing a lack of “necessary stakeholder support to succeed.”

“Football does not need a protest vote or candidate, we need unity, which is why I’ve decided to step away,”Β he wrote on Twitter.

“The new board will have my best wishes to deliver the promised reform in a transparent manner, with oversight by our community, in the best interests of all.”

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Foster failed to garner support outside the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), alienating powerbrokers at federations and clubs with his independence.

He pledged his support to fellow PFA-aligned candidate Heather Reid, who is now likely to find herself on the board.

The long-time Capital Football chief is one of two female candidates, along with Linda Norquist, in a reduced field of 10 running for four elected seats.

Chris Nikou is a likely compromise leadership choice given his ties to the Lowy era. Joseph Carrozzi is his chief rival from those who have already nominated, with rumours circling that former Senator Stephen Conroy could make a last-minute run.

Conroy is aligned with Melbourne City which has, though City Football Group executive Simon Pearce, worked behind the scenes on the reform process and board elections.

Nikou, Carrozzi, Conroy and Remo Nogarotto — along with Reid and Norquist — are considered to be the frontrunners for the board places.