Marquees and salary cap providing an entertaining spectacle

Robbie Di Fabio Roar Guru

By Robbie Di Fabio, Robbie Di Fabio is a Roar Guru

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    The 2012-13 A-League season was one of the most anticipated in recent memory. And, judging by the performances on the pitch, as well as the reaction of the general public, the expectations were justified.

    This is largely to do with two key factors: an even playing field, and the new marquee signings.

    Even playing field provides pure excitement
    The 2012-13 A-League season is shaping up to be the most hotly contested campaign in the competition’s seven-year history. Only three rounds have been completed thus far; however there appears to be very little separating the best from the worst.

    Early front-runner Adelaide United holds a mere three-point advantage over the club it lost to last week – Melbourne Victory, in ninth position on three points.

    Evidently, a competition which utilises a salary cap system, in conjunction with a restriction on player signings, will reduce the inequality throughout the league. It provides an equal opportunity – in fiscal terms within the salary cap – for all clubs to realistically be competitive and of course, harbour ambitions of being crowned champions.

    These elements are what draw the Australian sporting public towards our major codes. Without the salary cap, bigger clubs would consistently dominate, leaving the weaker clubs to make up the numbers.

    The competition may be unpredictable at the best of times, but it’s what makes the league ever so exciting. We’re in for another enthralling year, with the addition of some high-profile signings.

    Marquee signings living up to their name
    The addition of the marquee system, external to the salary cap, has certainly been a work-in-progress since the A-League’s inception. The concept is brilliant for a marketplace like Australia, although it hasn’t been utilised in the most productive manner in its early years.

    Since Dwight Yorke’s appearance in version one, many of the marquee names haven’t lived up to their names, or status. There has been the odd exception, ex-England international Robbie Fowler for instance, however the marquee system hasn’t quite worked as well as many would have liked.

    When we backtrack a few years, the landscape has change remarkably. Gone are the days where clubs seek to sign over-the-hill players, well and truly past their prime. Former Brazilian star Romario at the tender age of 40 was nothing more than a poor public relations stunt, while a visibly uninterested Mario Jardel proved to be a disaster – leaving mid-season during 2007-08.

    The A-League has evolved since those days, and importantly, it’s continuing to do so in an impressive manner.

    Only last season we witnessed the unprecedented arrivals of Socceroo luminaries Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton – at Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC respectively. Their signatures bolstered the competition’s image, and illustrated that the A-League was heading in the right direction.

    However, nothing prepared us for who would be arriving down under, come season eight – Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero and former English Premier League veteran Emile Heskey.

    Both are magnificent coups, not only for the Sky Blues and Jets respectively, but for the A-League as a whole. Del Piero, an idol back in his homeland, is not only making soundwaves around Australia, but all throughout the world.

    Honestly, who would have thought that the A-League would be televised live throughout Italy? Sometimes, we need to pinch ourselves at what is being unearthed. It further illustrates, a pipedream may just come into fruition, earlier than we may have anticipated.

    Del Piero provides immense commercial and marketing opportunities for Sydney FC. Already, there are reports surfacing of the Sky Blues planning a post-season tour of Asia, along with a home-coming fixture for their marquee-man against Italian powerhouse Juventus, in Torino.

    While a marquee player’s marketing abilities play an important role, their off-field attraction become insignificant if they don’t perform on the pitch. In Del Piero’s and Heskey’s case, the entrée we’ve received so far is enticing, with further surprises to come.

    In only three outings, both have hit the back of the net on two occasions, and looked ominous in the process.

    Shinji Ono, Western Sydney Wanderers’ inaugural international marquee, may not capture the same headlines as his higher profile colleagues, although his influence on the field is sure to play a pivotal role in the expansion club’s first campaign.

    The club’s growing contingent of supporters seem to have embraced the Japanese international with open arms. His English may be a little sketchy, but he has professed that his football will be doing all the talking – a mouth-watering prospect for any Wanderers fan.

    The current marquees on offer may just be the catalysts for further big-name signings to play in our domestic competition. Don’t be surprised if the A-League soon develops into a similar version of America’s MLS.

    Courtesy of Goal Weekly

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • October 27th 2012 @ 6:34am
      Johnno said | October 27th 2012 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      All footy codes or major sports codes should take a lesson and look at the A-league business model. A marquee outside the salary cap does wonders for the sport. Look back in the old days in the NBL before the rise of euro basket and chinese basketball. all those star US imports. Like dwayne mclain at the sydney kings. Rugby league the NRL should have a marquee system too. 1 or 2 or 3 marquues outside the cap, would do wonders. NBL basketball would be great 1 marquee per team , as all they could afford for now. I also like the idea of a marquee local. it means we get some of our best aussy talant back. I wouldn’t mind seeing the marquee rule moved up too.
      2 foregin and 2 local marquee players.

      That way even more stars comeback. And there is tonees of money all around OZ. heck hard to believe barley any news has been given to this amid the del piero hype. But Perth Glory have snuck under the radar and are leading the comp from memory.
      Big mining money in Perth could fund more marquee spots and stars.

      -Lets get a sydney FC Marquee line up of likes like this Del Piero/Rio Ferdisnand-jonhy terry types as 2 marquees. ANd a Kewell/Emerton/ or schwarcher type. Be great for A-league. And 5 foreign imports is good , keeps standards up and thats what fans want. High standards. We don’t pay to watch players based on local we pay to watch based on standards. And yes foreigners take spots but they give it back to create more soccer’s a sigher standards keep higher tv ratings $$$$, and that means moor money for junior soccer.

      NRL allows a lot of imports 6 at souths. RUgby union in OZ has missed the boat in Australia by now allowing more imports to prop up teams depth. I strongly disagree with Graham Arnold’s comments on imports. I’d much rather back Frank Lowy’s business model ideas than Arnold’s. Lowy sure knows more about the sport of football than Arnold anyway of the week and has done far for for aussy football than someone like Arnold could ever even imagine or get close too doing.

    • October 27th 2012 @ 8:37am
      nordster said | October 27th 2012 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      The thing with the fake equalised league is that it is focused only on the top prize and contriving a way of giving everyone their turn. An ‘unequal’ or diverse league would have two divisions, pressure at both ends of the table and more to play for than just at one end. It would also mean any club could in work their way to the top division. So expansion would be annual and regenerative for the league.

      I’d take issue with the point that only big clubs have something to play for without salary caps. The weaker clubs don’t just make up the numbers. Of course to do this, the idea of true competition would need to be embraced by australian sport or football at least. Small clubs, big clubs and everything in between.

      As far as the a-league business model being something to copy…its only survived so far due to cross subsidies and central propping up. True sustainability only comes when individual clubs are free to find their own level of financial operation that fits them specifically. Currently its the cookie cutter approach, and really nothing to be envied at all. Salary caps have a floor as well remember.

    • October 27th 2012 @ 8:53am
      MV Dave said | October 27th 2012 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      Interesting article in the DT saying the ADP effect has brought an extra 100,000 fans to the HAL;
      http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/football/alessandro-del-piero-deal-has-proven-priceless-for-sydney-fc/story-fndmcfmm-1226504267547
      Last season we had a record start but this season we are already averaging 1,500 people per game extra with an average of over 16,300 per game.
      It will be interesting to see how it pans out for the length of the season but what a start for the local game. Harry Kool to the Wanderers could be the final piece in the jigsaw for high profile players this season.
      Now if only MV can get their act together…

    • Roar Guru

      October 27th 2012 @ 11:46pm
      asanchez said | October 27th 2012 @ 11:46pm | ! Report

      The right Marquee players definetely have a place in the A-league. No reason why every club shouldn’t have one!
      With the financial situation in Europe these days and many other clubs around the world struggling to pay their players either on time or in full, the A-league is suddenly a healthy proposition for these good players to come from overseas. It’s clear to see that the whole Marquee idea works if you actually get the right player in. The FFA need to be applauded for offering up to $1m for every club to help with Marquee wages. Attracting these sort of players could become a yearly thing in the A-league.
      There’s still a few things to sort out in the game at the moment, which will improve and enhance the A-league even further.
      Obviously the TV rights, which should be announced within a fortnight will be huge for the game, giving us at least double the cash we’ve had previously. I know most people on here including me wanted or even expected more but we must walk before we can crawl, and double the cash is still double the cash. The local game is in a good place right now.
      Not only will we get the A-league on FTA which is awesome, but we’ve also got a national Radio deal which is important.
      The FFA cup is still on the cards, maybe it hasn’t happend as soon as everyone expected, but it’ll hopefully kick off within the next season or 2.
      I would extend the benches to at least 5 players on matchday, and we should extend the size of the squads to 25 players minimum. And eventually, the most important IMO, is extending the length of the season. We should be looking to extending our season at least by a month or 2 in the short term, within 5 years I reckon. At the moment our off season is a joke for many reasons, not only it does nothing for the sport in terms of publicity, as we hibernate for 6 months or so, it’s a massive disadvantage for our young Aussie players who need as many games as possible to develop as quick as possible, and it makes it difficult to keep the good foreigners in Australia as they’ve got 6 months a year to see the sights.
      Things are on the up overall though, and it’s a great time to be a Football fan.

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