There’s so much talk in and around the game at the moment about A-League expansion, about the desperate need for a second division, and about promotion and relegation.
This discussion is much needed, and even Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglou has weighed into the debate. Hopefully that translates into action at FFA HQ. I’m not holding my breath at this stage, but one can only hope. These are all serious and genuine discussions that the game and its head honchos need to be having right now.
Following on from my last article, an opening up of the financial football market in Australia would really give the game a huge boost, which is exactly what it needs right now.
I can understand why all these restrictions were put in place to begin with, but we’ve passed that stage, and we need natural football evolution in this country, as was always going to happen, to finally take its course.
I agree with Postecoglou’s comments when he practically said that football should be in a growth phase right now, but it seems that it’s consolidating and holding back its own future.
The game needs to capitalise on its huge growth today, not tomorrow, when it might be too late. You need to strike while the iron’s hot, both in business and in sport, otherwise gigantic opportunities may be missed, and the game will pay for those in the long term.
My proposal would be to allow transfer fees between all A-League clubs. This is a no-brainer because it creates a positive cycle for the entire code. Will the bigger clubs become stronger? Possibly, but it gives the smaller clubs two huge incentives they’ve never had before. One is great financial reward for their efforts, which they can use to keep running their clubs, if they really need to, or to invest in players, coaches, facilities et cetera. The other advantage is that it will keep them concentrating on their own academies to keep developing quality young domestic players, which is a win for the players, for the fans, for the entire competition and for the national teams. The Mariners have done this to some extent, but they could’ve made so much more money had the domestic market been open five years ago.
An open market would also create more job security for players, as current clubs would no longer offer just one-year deals, which is ridiculously common in today’s A-League. This gives the league an amateur feel, and it’s also why there are still so many A-League rejects running around for their sixth or seventh club, which makes a mockery of the competition when there are only ten teams.
There are so many quality players in the state NPL competitions who need a chance to prove themselves, and the competition needs fresh names on the back of shirts for kids to look up to.
Clubs would be forced to offer their better players three, four, or five-year deals to hold onto their assets and to maintain bargaining power at the negotiating table should another A-League club come asking for them.
As far as the current fees to NPL clubs go, it’s beyond a farce. Today an A-League club can sign the best NPL player in their state with compensation to the NPL club ranging from $0 to $10,000. This needs to change, and strict rules need to be implemented to guarantee state clubs are duly compensated. This would bring all the tiers of the football pyramid together.
There are many NPL players out there who are just guns for hire, moving clubs every season or two for more pay. You could argue that those clubs and those players deserve very little, but I’m talking about a good player who is wanted by an A-League club and who has come through the junior system of that NPL club or been there for at least five consecutive years,
There should be a ceiling of $100,000 for the best NPL players as compensation. NPL clubs run on the smell of an oily rag and often by volunteers who put their heart and soul into their roles for no financial reward. Up to $100k for these clubs means bigger and better club rooms, better training gear, upgraded lighting, better seating, renovated canteens et cetera. It’s great for them, as their income streams are limited compared to A-League, and many of them have had great junior academies since the 70s and 80s.
Last but not least is that this plan will create the buzz and excitement that builds on the back of an open market.
Speculation, rumours and innuendo will run rife during the A-League off-season and in the January transfer window, which will keep the competition in the public consciousness and keep it in the media when the competition hasn’t yet started. It’s also free advertising for the league without having spending any of its marketing budget – the hype will do the work for them.
A true football economy is much needed, it probably should’ve happened three or four years ago.
What do you think – what would you do?