A-League transfer policy plays rich against poor

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    Joel Griffiths of the Newcastle Jets celebrates. AAP Image/Paul Miller

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    The A-League transfer market will open on January 14, a fortnight after Europe and most of the Asian leagues.

    Sydney FC coach Frank Farina has criticised this unusual timing in the wake of signing forward Joel Griffiths from Shanghai Shenhua.

    Griffiths, 33, will not be eligible to play for the Sky Blues until the Australian transfer market opens.

    Farina said off contract players should not be restricted from playing outside the transfer window:

    “I don’t agree with the window here. Joel Griffiths was off contract the 31st of December so it’s not as if he’s still contracted to a club.”

    Farina has said that the restrictions were an unwelcome change from previous years:

    “In good faith they [the A-League] put the dates down thinking it was going to be the best thing for the league but for us, in our situation”, Farina said.

    This may be an irritation for cashed-up Sydney FC, but for poorer clubs it provides an opportunity to bring in cover after European and Asian clubs raid their playing stocks.

    A-League league chief Damien de Bohun says, “The main rationale for this change was to allow clubs to sign new players during the relevant European registration windows… While also allowing clubs to sign new players after the European registration periods close, enabling clubs to replace players that move late in the relevant transfer windows.”

    League leaders Central Coast Mariners may yet lose star players Tom Rogic and Mathew Ryan.

    Last season the Mariners crashed from Premiership triumph to finals also-rans on the back of losing crucial players in January.

    The Mariner’s F3 rivals, Newcastle Jets, also suffered decimating loses in the January 2009 transfer window, following their 2008 A-League winning jubilation.

    The Jets lost Socceroos James Holland and Mark Milligan to foreign clubs. But the real loss was none other than a certain Joel Griffiths.

    What’s the old saying? Something like what goes around…