Why the A-League doesn’t need Del Piero
175 Have your say
Mike Tuckerman made the case yesterday as to “Why the A-League needs Del Piero”. I for one thought his arguments were a little light and somewhat unconvincing.
Don’t get me wrong. I am an avid A-League fan and I would be happy for Del Piero to come to Sydney FC. Lord knows, they need all the help they can get. But does the A-League need players like this to survive or prosper? I don’t think so.
There is a tendency for Australian football fans to become a little starstruck whenever a hero figure is mentioned – Yorke, Juninho, Fowler, Culina, Kewell and Emerton, to name a few of the bigger ones. We salivate at the prospect of their arrival and each one is touted as a potential saviour, not just of the club they will play for, but of the entire league.
Writers like Mike tell us that “the A-League could really use a timely boost”, ignoring that each year we have our own homemade highlights. Surely the arrival of West Sydney Wanderers next year is a bigger boost to the A-League than the possible arrival of one player, for perhaps one season.
In the past we’ve seen the rise and fall of Gold Coast United and the North Queensland Fury, the inane behaviour of Palmer and Tinkler, the arrival of the Melbourne Heart and the massive local Melbourne derby crowds, the undefeated run of the Brisbane Roar, the return of Graham Arnold to become an A-League coach, and many other events.
Each of these have added a multitude of column inches to the football press, generating awareness for the sport and hardening the resolve of the hardcore fans to continue supporting the A-League come-what-may. And they are our stories. They are not wishes and wants and hopes that sweep over us for a fleeting moment, that some individual, however great, or however past his prime, may grace our shores momentarily and pull on his boots.
The football aficionados will know and love (or hate) Del Piero for all he has done over 19 years of service with Juventus. Euro snobs and marginal football fans may even attend a few games to see him play if he comes to town.
Those who are undecided or uncommitted to the A-League will say it’s just another example of what’s wrong with the sport – clutching at retirees to boost a low quality league, and chasing ex-greats in an effort to shore up attendance and stir up interest.
I’m not against the marquee idea. I just don’t think that spouting the virtues of one man is the way forward. We don’t need saviours to “re-ignite mainstream interest”, to be one club’s “biggest coup” while providing a “timely boost” for the new season.
Anyone who believes those words is effectively saying that if the signing doesn’t eventuate, we will face a deep loss in mainstream interest. Of course, that argument is foolish.
You only have to read the various clubs’ fan forums (pre-Del Piero) to know how highly anticipated this season is. We want to know if Brisbane can three-peat, if the Mariners can finally break through, whether Ange will turn the Victory into a champion side and whether the Jets can crack 11,000 members. There is much to discuss and look forward to in season 2012-13.
If we have to rely on marquee players to boost attendance and mainstream awareness, I’d prefer to see a real program put together. For example, the FFA could contract 10 marquee players on a million dollars each, and use a random draw to assign one to each club.
The gathering of 10 marquee players would generate interest, the draw could be televised, and every club would have a “name” player. But those sorts of ideas have their own failings and are for another conversation.
Right now, I say the A-League doesn’t need a Del Piero. It might be nice, but it’s not needed.
What the A-League needs is a massive (trouble free) crowd for the Western Sydney versus Sydney FC local derby – a match to replicate the Victory versus Heart derbies.
It needs stories of new local talent found, club successes and club failures. And no disrespect to Del Piero, but in five weeks we will have plenty of local stories to keep us talking.
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