News that Spain’s David Villa has signed for newly named Melbourne City – Formerly Melbourne Heart- in the Hyundai A League is indeed exciting news. Villa could well be the most exciting signing since Dwight Yorke in the inaugural season. The reason being this is a player still at the top of his game.
Villa has just won the La Liga and is headed to Brazil for his third World Cup Finals. Villa has won a World Cup and a European Championship with Spain, as well as UEFA Champions League, La Liga and FIFA Club World Cup. At 32 years of age he is almost five years younger than Alessandro del Piero was when he decided to play in the A-League.
The deal has undoubtedly come about because Villa has signed for New York City a club also owned by Melbourne Heart/City’s new owners the City Football Group. A Group who also are involved with English Premier League Champions Manchester City.
There are however warning signs as there always were with a club like Manchester City buying into smaller leagues around the World. Sending players out to these lesser clubs will assist Manchester City in avoiding fines similar to GBP49million one it just received for failing to comply with the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules; GBP32million of which was suspended.
Manchester City may have plenty of financial clout behind them but they have posted combined losses of almost £149m for the past two seasons – £97m in 2012 and £51.6m in 2013. The FFA need to be on top of monitoring the financial running of Melbourne City and ensure that this club’s debts do not spiral out of control, as a withdrawal by the City Football Group could leave the league and the club in a precarious position.
Perhaps though the other big warning sign came in a comment from David Villa following the announcement of his guest stint. “It’s very good for me in every sense,” Villa is reported to have said. “From a football point of view it’s the opportunity to play in a new league in a different country, and of course it will be ideal for me to get some competitive football in the period before the MLS season gets under way.”
The last thing the A-League needs to become is a pre-season training facility for the MLS and with the City Football club owning New York City and with all due respect to Melbourne, the pulling power and marketing potential is far greater in New York than it is in Melbourne, as well as the USA against Australia.
If the FFA allows such a thing to happen, the A-League being used to keep MLS players fit, this will ultimately be more damaging in the long term than the owners withdrawal. Fans relate to players and expect players to be loyal to their club, the last thing they need is the season to start superbly thanks to a number of “Blow-ins” only to implode when they go to play in a competition they feel is of a higher standard.
Having David Villa coming to play in Australia is great news and superb for fans of football in Australia. As stated he is not over the hill and will no doubt have a massive impact on and off the park, it is just his move flags other potential issues, and the game must look at its long term future and not short term fixes.