There was a story written by one of the Eastern states football writers following the departure of Dwight Yorke that the Hyundai A league needed to allow the clubs two marquee players instead of the current allocation of one. With four years hindsight that may well have been the right option to maintain the momentum of the Hyundai A league, rather than introducing three and soon to be four new teams so quickly.
There is a great deal of fear amongst the football fraternity that the Hyundai A League which looked structurally sound when set up by Matt Carroll is looking decidedly like the NSL revisited, with administrators and coaches from yesteryear being recycled, as well as clubs in financial crisis, and losing money that they cannot afford to lose on a regular basis. It is a grave concern.
The Marquee player issues is one where we believe the FFA can act and assist in stemming the financial haemorrhaging that the clubs owners are suffering.
In the 2009/10 season, looking at the Australian clubs alone, seven out of the nine had marquee players. Of those seven clubs, five employed Australian players as their marquee players. This is regrettably where the problem lies.
First of all with the exception of probably, Kewell who is on the wane now, Schwarzer, Viduka, now as far as we know retired, and Cahill, there are no Australian players that are going to swell your crowd figures, enough to cover the cost of bringing in a Marquee player. Schwarzer would be interesting, as goalkeepers tend not to attract crowds either.
We believe that the FFA should bring a rule that no Hyundai A league club can sign an Australian as a marquee player.
The other plus that a move such as this would have is that it would make sure that the Hyundai A league does not become a retirement club for players returning from Europe wanting one last pay check. Let’s face it; most of these players today do not need the money that they are demanding, if they have invested their European earnings wisely. This is where Paul Okon deserves more credit than was given to him, when he came back and played for the Newcastle Jets he asked for a minimum wage advising that he did not require a large salary.
The North Queensland Fury last season signed former England and Liverpool great Robbie Fowler as their marquee player. This was a move that surprised many, but one that showed ambition, but sadly ambition that did not match reality.
The sad truth about this signing is the Fury did not gain the benefit they would have expected, yet all of the other A league clubs did. The crowds swelled all around Australia when the Fury played away, with Robbie Fowler on the park. So all of the clubs with lesser marquee players reaped the financial rewards of a bigger crowd.
Take Fowler out of the equation, and how many of these players would have brought extra fans through the gate? Brisbane Roar – Craig Moore, Gold Coast United – Jason Culina, Melbourne Victory – Archie Thompson, Newcastle Jets – Fabio Vignaroli, Perth Glory – Mile Sterjovski and Sydney – John Aloisi.
The Marquee player issue needs to be addressed and quickly before they squeeze the life out of the Hyundai A league.