All football fans in Australia want to see the Hyundai A League succeed. All fans dream of the A League being a league were superstars one day come to play when they still have some petrol in the tank, and all football fans in Australia dream of a league where he clubs owners are in it for teh long haul and they do not have to worry about owners walking away when they have had enough or run out of money.
So you would think many would welcome the FFA revealing that they are assisting with the wages of some key players in the Hyundai A League. This was made abundantly clear when they confirmed Lucas Neill would be joining Sydney FC on a guest contract. The press release stated “This season FFA has been party to several arrangements covering marquee players and returning Socceroos. Our aim has been to support clubs who have made substantial investments in top quality players. The marquee players and returning Socceroos have added great value to the A-League in terms of playing standard and marketability. At the end of the season we will review this policy in conjunction with the clubs to ensure we are maximizing benefits for the whole league.” This quote is attributed to FFA CEO Geoff Gallop.
One has to ask is this in fact the right thing to do? If one club has been assisted then why has not every A League club been given the same sum of money to assist with their wage bill or recruitment? Sydney FC now have received assistance with the signing of del Piero and Lucas Neill, is that fair, when some clubs have received no financial assistance for any players?
Similarly who determines whether a player is a good investment and worth the FFA offering their financial support? These are questions fans really need to ask.
Lucas Neill has served the game well, he has been a great ambassador for the Australian game, yet one has to worry when a player of his pedigree cannot find a club, as was the case with Harry Kewell. The mature, more educated football world has spoken by their actions, and Australia should take heed. There is a time and a place for sentiment.
The signing of Lucas Neill and the fact that the game’s governing body in Australia has openly admitted that they helped facilitate it and have offered financial support puts the national coach Holger Osciek in an unenviable position. Should he feel that his captain is no longer the man for the job as a leader or a player, is he going to be able to drop him, or will he feel a tap on his shoulder from his employer telling him it would cause them gross embarrassment if he is not selected? One would hope that the Head coaches decision is final, but should that scenario play out it could leave the games bosses with egg on their faces.
The key issue will be if Lucas Neill can prove himself fit enough and up to the task of international football. Holger Osciek’s reputation is on the line, and as he has stated many times players need to be playing regularly to perform on the international stage, it is therefore unlikely he will comprise his views and beliefs or be dictated to.
This is one of many reasons why the FFA should not be involved in the transfer or signing of any players apart from processing the paperwork. It should also now be revealed to the football family which clubs have received assistance and those who have not, so fans are aware of the playing field on which their team is performing. Many have known for a long time that it would take more than a heavy roller to bring it back to even for all this latest announcement simply brought it out into the open.