Melbourne Heart transfer policy: The Ajax System required
In recent weeks, Melbourne Heart have commissioned the rapid fire sales of some of their finest young players; fuelling the ever growing movements of our most exciting prospects to foreign shores.
Promising young striker Eli Babalj decided to give another season of A-League football a miss and sealed a move to the club he supported as a boy, Serbian powerhouse Red Star Belgrade.
This was speedily followed with key defender Curtis Good all but putting pen to paper to seal a move to English Premier League powerhouse Newcastle United.
Not to end there, in the last week it has been reported that his defensive partner Brendan Hamill is set to sign for Korean club and 2010 AFC Champions League winner Seongnam Ilhwa.
Now, selling off of our best young talent isn’t necessarily a negative. These promising players have all attracted reported transfer fees in excess of $A500,000 each, proving that there is plenty of money to be gained from player sales, through successful youth development.
In fact this is a part of global football, and some of Europe’s biggest clubs are fiscal powerhouses due to their youth development and resulting transfers.
The argument that these young stars can be retained is futile, as football is a global game and players will fall victim to a global market. Unfortunately for a developing league there is always going to be more money elsewhere. The key behind players leaving, is the fact that they do want to leave, getting in their way is going to help no-one.
Players will always want to seek greener pastures, embracing this player market is a critical element in the business world. Dutch powerhouse AFC Ajax has been generating profits for decades due to their shrewd business operations.
They thrive off youth development; their globally spread academies are some of the best in the world and have produced local stars such as Van Der Vaart, Sneijder, Babel and even foreign stars such as South African Steven Pienaar.
In the six years up to 2008, the club generated a net surplus of €76 million in the transfer market. This is enough to keep a club sustainable for years, allowing the club to improve facilities, staff, and academies and eventually leading to domestic and global dominance on and off the pitch. Their profitable operations have allowed for bigger spending in the transfer market, while yet to pay off, the money is readily available.
It is where this money is going to be spent that is the big sticking point for Melbourne Heart supporters and fans. This extra income is a huge blessing for a club trying to gain market share in a tight sporting market, this money needs to be treated accordingly. Sadly without much debate we can accept that this latest influx of funding will go straight to paying off debts and covering lacklustre gate receipts.
This is unfortunately a very reactive use of this money. As a passionate fan, I am in my right to demand something that will excite me, something that will keep me attending our home fixtures. At the end of 2004, Portuguese club F.C. Porto, another transfer dependant club, sold star playmaker Deco to Barcelona for over €21 million. While tragic, they managed to bring in exciting winger Ricardo Quaresma, proving transfers can work both ways. Fans don’t want just profits, they want to be pleased.
The proactive approach for the Melbourne Heart board would be setting their sights on attracting a genuine world class marquee player to our club. The FFA implemented the dual marquee player system for a reason; they went by the expectation that this rule would be embraced by clubs that could afford it. We can afford it.
While some fans will promote the ultra-conservative use of saving money, the majority of fans would without question want to see a big fish landing on our shores. Marquee players, big names, world-class players bring in the crowds. The signing of Harry Kewell last year for Melbourne Victory was monumental off the pitch.
He brought back much needed media attention, crowds and that glamour back to the game. Dwight Yorke and Robbie Fowler are just some names to prove that big name marquee players work.
We have an opportunity to reclaim some of the spotlight from our bigger brother in the Melbourne Victory. The Harry Kewell departure has paved the way for our club to lure those fickle casual fans who remain on the sidelines. Luring a big name that would rival Harry Kewell would raise eyebrows and deliver a much needed PR blow to our rival, the Melbourne Victory.
While Marcos Flores may be a decent replacement, he lacks the star power of Kewell. We can sign someone with star power that would regenerate the low crowds, poor gate receipts and the lack of media attention we are currently experiencing.
The MLS in America believes in selling the youth to bring in the stars. While no longer in their peak, names such as Beckham, Henry and Juan Pablo Angel bring in the crowds, while still putting up solid performances on and off the pitch.
Mark “Marco” Bresciano, is the most obvious name that comes to mind. A favourite son returning would definitely rival that hype generated with Harry Kewell, it would perhaps even surpass it. Melbourne Heart should capitalise on his reported unhappiness in the Middle East and bring him home with this newly acquired transfer war chest.
I can only picture Marco on a lazy Sunday morning sipping on a freshly brewed coffee at his beloved Lygon Street.
Other big names such as Fabio Grosso, Pippo Inzaghi and even Michael Owen have all been linked to the A-League in recent weeks, in fact French superstar Robert Pires is offering himself up to clubs. It would be a pleasant surprise if one or more lined up for the red and white in season eight.
So while it is good to sell our young players for the right price, let’s make sure that the money is spent well, spent on pleasing the most valuable commodity to a football club, the fans. Melbourne Heart it is time we are no longer the timid younger brother in this town, it is time we started taking the limelight.