On wednesday night’s show, Adelaide City coach Damien Mori stated that he felt his side’s victory over last year’s A-League Grand Finalists Western Sydney Wanderers in the FFA Cup showed that the A-League was ready for expansion.
Mori who was until recently the Socceroos’ highest ever goalscorer felt that they current set up in Australia was causing too many talented young players to slip through the net. A view held by many others in and around the game.
The Hyundai A-League has a habit of recycling mediocre players for the simple fact that coaches and clubs are not prepared to take a risk on young talent; they would rather go with an average player whose capabilities and limitations they are aware of. Some would say the same could be said of coaching staff.
Mori pointed out that with five foreign spots in each A-League side in the ten team league the maximum number of places for Australian players is 180. He questioned whether that is enough for Australia to live up to expectations on the international field of play.
He made an interesting point that if the FFA enforced a salary cap on new clubs based on their financial backing and capabilities, so a means tested cap, some clubs would be forced to sign young local talent. He admitted that they may struggle in the first year or so but with time they would soon be able to match the established sides. Maybe he has a point. Maybe new clubs should be invited into the league based on this form of Salary cap.
If they were though it would be important that transfer fees were implemented to ensure that those clubs who were prepared to take a risk on young players and nurture them to a point where they are desirable to bigger clubs are suitable rewarded. Although of course a player and his agent can always get around a transfer if he so wishes.
There is no doubt that the current salary cap has not had the effect everyone had hoped, where the Champions were spread across all of the clubs. Already Brisbane Roar have won three titles, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory two each and Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners one apiece in nine seasons. So five clubs out of 13 who have participated in the A-League have won the title.
Even if we look at who the Premiers have been, the league leaders at the end of the season its a similar picture, Central Coast Mariners (2) Melbourne Victory (2), Brisbane Roar (2), Adelaide United, Sydney and Western Sydney Wanderers all with one title; six clubs out of 13.
Sadly the restriction that clubs must spend “x” amount of the salary cap has seen some players play some players inflated salaries. The truth is that some clubs have managed the salary cap better than others and these are the clubs that have seen a smaller turnover of players and have tended to be those listed, who have in turn won honours. How many of the clubs in the A-League are in truth living beyond their means with the current salary cap? How many would welcome a lowered ceiling?
Damien Mori has been around the game a long time both as a player and now with eleven years experience under his belt as a coach in South Australia. His suggestion is one that should not be simply dismissed but one that should be listened to, looked at and thought through, as it could give the Australian youngsters and our national teams the boost they currently need.