News that Steve Pantelidis has left Perth Glory to going Selangor in Malaysia may have come as a shock to some Perth Glory fans, but to others possibly its timing was a bigger shock. Pantelidis is 30 years old and the new regime at the Perth Glory has a strong accent on youth, and therefore he would have been well aware that his time at the club may well have been limited. The signing of former French international William Gallas and his subsequent relegation to the bench may well have sped up his move.
Glory fans should never forget the impact his selection along with Steve McGarry’s had on the club’s season in 2011/12. It was their joint inclusion that saved coach Ian Ferguson’s job, turned Glory’s season around and saw them launch a nine game unbeaten run that meant that they made finals and then progressed to the Grand Final.
His move though is not necessarily a good sign for the Hyundai A League. Pantelidis has won the A-League championship twice and has also won the Premiership twice with Melbourne Victory. Just seven years ago he was named The Age newspaper ‘young player of the year.’ One would have thought that he would be a player many clubs would want in their squads for his experience and his pedigree, but the Malaysian Super League is able to offer more money and security than the A-League.
The word is that this season has seen more players in the Hyundai A-League being signed on minimum wage salaries since the league’s inception. If that is the case we are likely to see more and more players around the age of 30 looking to head overseas, as many A League clubs, it would appear, are unable to afford to keep them.
This would indicate that the A-League is about to become a development league for young talent. Some will say it already is such a league, but that is not entirely true. The league has been a competitive one where development has evolved with young players being given opportunities in the first team alongside experienced professionals. However if the financial rewards are not going to be there for senior, experienced players, and young players are going to be selected for financial reasons as much as for their ability the standard of football is likely to drop for a period and so too is the league’s appeal.
These are interesting times for the Hyundai A -League. Many believing that this year is already a two-horse race between Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers; two clubs ahead of the rest in terms of depth of squads and playing structures.
The interesting thing to watch is whether more players of Pantelidis calibre opt for League’s many would expect, based on the performance of those country’s national teams’s, to be lower than Australia’s, but where the financial rewards are greater.
Is the A-League at a crossroads? Time will tell. In the meantime we wish Steve Pantelidis the best of luck and are sure that Glory fans will thank him for his contribution.