The move of Nik Mrdja to the Melbourne Victory as an injury replacement for Billy Celeski the same day that he re-signed with the Central Coast Mariners for next season was a gross misjudgement by the powers that be at the FFA.
The whole injury replacement scenario needs to be revisited, as it fast becoming a farce with clubs making sure that doctor’s sign injured players off for six weeks, so that they can replace them while they recover from an injury which may only require four weeks.
Billy Celeski has been sidelined since September, so this was not a sudden need for a player. Although it was for Melbourne Victory, as striker Archie Thompson had been ruled out. We do not blame Melbourne Victory for exploiting the loophole. We do not blame Central Coast Mariners for allowing the player to move and get additional game time after a bad trot with injuries. However we do blame the FFA.
As the finals series approaches there should be a “Cup Tie” rule. That players who have moved between clubs as injury replacements are either ineligible for the finals series completely, or are eligible only if they have played a set number of games for their adopted club.
This move has opened a can of worms, with Gold Coast United now wanting to sign the Fury’s Robbie Fowler for the finals series as an injury replacement for Adama Traore, who was ruled out as recently as last week. Should the FFA oppose such a move, don’t be surprised if Clive “Moneybags” Palmer decides to contest the ruling and the FFA facing a legal battle, if only to prove a point.
There is a bigger picture at stake with these silly rules and that is the World Cup bid. FIFA do not take kindly to national associations deviating from their international rules, and this little storm could well end up tipping the tea cup into the lap of one executive and making him very upset. Couple this with the row about the Wellington Phoenix being in the A league, and their New Zealand players having to be classed as “Foreign” players, the FFA have a few fires to put out and quickly. If they don’t they run a very big risk that these fires will be fanned to burn down the bid for the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 by opposing bidders. Look at the bidding process for 2006 to see just how dirty can be.