Ok, so next season in the A-League is quickly becoming its most important yet, as it will hopefully be the start of a new TV deal for Football Federation Australia (FFA), or the midpoint of the negotiations for the next deal.
As we know, the FFA will have a so called ‘Marquee Fund’ for next season, which is a top-up fund to be used for marquee wages, available to all ten clubs. Should the FFA sign off on certain potential signings, they will make funds available (believed to be seven-figure sum) to be added onto a club’s official wage budget, to help entice each prospective player to move to Australia.
In other words, the FFA realised four seasons ago that the best money spent to help advertise and promote the league is not through a glitzy ad campaign, but to actually pay top wages to top players, and if they can stay fit and live up to their reputations, they will promote and advertise the league on their own.
In my opinion, there are two levels of marquees, and they are both needed in the A-League. One is the Bruno Fornaroli-type marquee, and the other is the Alessandro Del Piero type. The first level is much cheaper, probably ranging anywhere between $300,000-$1 million per year.
These are players who are not worldwide known players, who do not put bums on seats to begin with, but in time become the best players in the competition, and drive the league forward. Besart Berisha and Thomas Broich spring to mind.
As an avid follower of the Portuguese Superliga, I can tell you that players of the quality of Berisha, Broich, Guilherme Finkler, Roly Bonevacia are a dime a dozen in that league, and they don’t earn huge wages over there. A foreigner of that quality in Portugal (of which most are Brazilian) would earn no more than €3000 per month, or $4000 AUD.
Now, of course, a player probably won’t uproot across the world for $50-$80,000, but you might be surprised! I’d say most would look at a $100-$200k offer very seriously.
Now there are many other leagues in Europe where a bargain or a diamond in the rough can be found, our clubs just need to look carefully, particularly in countries outside the top three or four leagues, and in the mid to lower table clubs.
Then, of course, coming in at $1 million plus per year, is the level one marquee.
Recently names like Samuel Eto’o and Luca Toni have been mentioned. Surely we are past the stage where we have to sign players well past 35 years old. There are always a few exceptions, but at worst, we should be looking at players in their early 30s wherever possible.
We should definitely be looking at players like Claudio Pizarro, Mario Gomez, Dimitar Berbatov, Peter Crouch, Francesco Totti, Fernando Torres, Arjen Robben, Hugo Almeida, Ricardo Quaresma, Radamel Falcao and Miroslav Klose.
We would only need two or three of these players plus a couple more level two marquees to grow the league again, while also helping to market and advertise the competition to the masses.
And there will be more Australian players returning home next season, perhaps Brett Holman and Scott McDonald may return. But everyone is wondering where Tim Cahill will end up, as he is the last remaining Socceroo who’d actually help grow the A-League, so he’s in a category of his own.
Personally I am not convinced he would deliver here, and I am sure he would be heavily smashed in the media if he did not dominate every week. But he would certainly add some sort of credibility to the local competition.
What do you think?
Do we need these types of players to help grow the sport here?
And who would you like to see come to the A-League next season?