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Dear FFA: Please avoid marquee madness

A special fund for special players, can FFA make it happen? And should they? (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
Roar Guru
4th July, 2016
28

The marquee player has always been a hot topic of discussion in A-League circles. In the competition’s 11-year history we’ve seen many different versions of this concept.

We’ve had the Dwight Yorke/Alessandro Del Piero marquee, who were fantastic for the league. hey both worked out well because they performed, and both at crucial stages of the league’s history, one at the very beginning, and another during a period of stagnation.

On the other end of the spectrum we’ve had the Brian Deane/Mario Jardel marquee who both came out here with good pedigree, particularly Jardel, but both came way too late in their careers, poorly scouted and were a total waste of time and money.

We’ve also had many teams instal marginally better than average players as their ‘marquee’ for purely accounting purposes, completely disregarding the marquee rules and concept. The FFA has allowed to this to slide far too often.

As we head into a very important season, the marquee player signing is looming as a very important pawn in the FFA strategy with TV broadcasters. This is in the hope of attaining a much better deal for the game than the current $40m per year which expires at the end of the coming season.

So far this offseason we’ve heard names like Tim Cahill, Ronaldinho, Hugo Almeida, Samuel Eto’o and Javier Saviola.

We all know how much signing Cahill would do for the credibility and reputation of both the competition and the FFA as a whole. Tim would put bums on seats, extra eyeballs on TV, and help secure extra dollars for all facets of the game, be it in terms of sponsorship, memberships and a better TV deal.

This I have no doubt about, even if I am very sceptical about his on-field influence at almost 38 YO, in a very physical league.

But Tim is a special case, being the best performing Socceroo of all time, and an absolute hero in Oz. For this reason, I hope the FFA and one club can work something out and bring him home, for the competition as a whole.

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But besides Tim, IMO I think we need to get foreign marquee players that are willing to stick around in Oz for a minimum of three seasons. They need to help to build something here, not just fly in, take our cash and fly back out after 12-24 months never to be seen again.

Also, age has a big part to play, I’d be looking at players closer to 30, and no more than 35, definitely not in the 36-38 bracket. Yes there’s always exceptions, and ADP was one of them, he was great at the time, but he is a one of a kind type of player in many respects.

A player like a Ronaldinho or a Samuel Eto’o is a great name on a piece of paper, but they’re both way too old, no longer mobile enough for this league, and would be requesting a small fortune as a wage based on their reputations and careers, and not on their current playing and physical ability.

What people forget to realise is that our competition is played in summer and on hard, rugby/AFL type surfaces, not on soft lush carpets that these guys are used to.

Let’s put some other names on the table, Saviola, Hugo Almeida, Ricardo Quaresma, Hal Robson-Kanu, Dario Srna and so on. There more names out there in a worldwide market. They’re very high quality players worthy of the marque tag, and a step up from Janko, Holosko, Castelen etc.

I think one or two of these types of players per season in the competition would be sufficient, as long as they kept performing.

On the other hand, the clubs need to improve their worldwide networks and scouting, because as we’ve seen with the current stars of the A-League, quality counts much more than a name on a piece of paper.

Very few of the Australian sporting public would’ve heard of Tomas Broich, Besart Berisha, Bruno Fornaroli, Henrique, Marcelo Carrusca etc. These were no-name players that came to these shores, produced big time, grew in stature, improved everyone around them, and they’ve all stayed the course and helped to improve the competition and the overall product grow to where it is today.

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And none of those players would be on more than $1m per year (perhaps Fornaroli may be soon) but they’ve all been worth every penny. These are the type of players that our clubs and administrators should be looking at.

So yes, marquees are definitely needed, but please let’s stop looking and fantasising at names on a piece of paper.

What do you think? What type of marquees do our clubs need?

And who would you realistically like to see?