First, there was Italian Benito Carbone, who played three guest matches for Sydney FC. Then Brazilian legend Romario played four guest matches for Adelaide United.
Now Spanish legend David Villa will wrap up his guest stint with Melbourne City after playing four matches, returning to New York City for promotional and family reasons.
It has not been made clear whether Villa will return.
Melbourne City officials say they are hopeful he would prefer to come back after his promotional duties, as training in a football environment while maintaining match fitness by playing in the A-League would be seen as beneficial prior to his participation in the MLS.
Although it has been a pleasure having had the Spanish legend grace our shores, the time has come for our fans to be taken more seriously. These guest stints can only be viewed as a quick dollar grab.
On the other hand, Melbourne City have achieved record memberships and within the first two rounds played in front of record home (non-derby) and away attendances. The presence of David Villa has had some effect.
For a club that had a season to forget last term, turn arounds like this don’t occur over the course of one regular off-season.
The rebranding of the club, along with the addition of exciting youngsters and big name players have all been factors in the turn around for Melbourne City.
Some may ask, “Would you prefer he not have come?”
My answer to that question is no, but to the future, yes.
Given the departure of Alessandro Del Piero, Shinji Ono and Emile Heskey we have outgrown the need for ageing marquees and guest players. With record TV ratings, attendances and memberships, quality football is the future for the A-League.
Even before Villa’s arrival, his stint was already seen as a joke. His late arrival and the clarity to all fans as to how long he would be here was an unprofessional way of dealing with the fans.
This comes as a major blow for other clubs too. Brisbane CEO Sean Dobson indicated prior to this unfortunate announcement that ticket sales for the match between Roar and City were tracking to reach an expected 28,000.
Villa may or may not return, but it is about time our 10-year-old competition started to be taken more seriously.