Expansion that Backs Young Talent

August 15, 2014 at 8:55 am 2 comments

On wednesday night’s show, Adelaide City coach Damien Mori stated that he felt his side’s victory over last year’s A-League Grand Finalists Western Sydney Wanderers in the FFA Cup showed that the A-League was ready for expansion.

Mori who was until recently the Socceroos’ highest ever goalscorer felt that they current set up in Australia was causing too many talented young players to slip through the net. A view held by many others in and around the game.

The Hyundai A-League has a habit of recycling mediocre players for the simple fact that coaches and clubs are not prepared to take a risk on young talent; they would rather go with an average player whose capabilities and limitations they are aware of. Some would say the same could be said of coaching staff.

Mori pointed out that with five foreign spots in each A-League side in the ten team league the maximum number of places for Australian players is 180. He questioned whether that is enough for Australia to live up to expectations on the international field of play.

He made an interesting point that if the FFA enforced a salary cap on new clubs based on their financial backing and capabilities, so a means tested cap, some clubs would be forced to sign young local talent. He admitted that they may struggle in the first year or so but with time they would soon be able to match the established sides. Maybe he has a point. Maybe new clubs should be invited into the league based on this form of Salary cap.

If they were though it would be important that transfer fees were implemented to ensure that those clubs who were prepared to take a risk on young players and nurture them to a point where they are desirable to bigger clubs are suitable rewarded. Although of course a player and his agent can always get around a transfer if he so wishes.

There is no doubt that the current salary cap has not had the effect everyone had hoped, where the Champions were spread across all of the clubs. Already Brisbane Roar have won three titles, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory two each and Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners one apiece in nine seasons. So five clubs out of 13 who have participated in the A-League have won the title.

Even if we look at who the Premiers have been, the league leaders at the end of the season its a similar picture, Central Coast Mariners (2) Melbourne Victory (2), Brisbane Roar (2), Adelaide United, Sydney and Western Sydney Wanderers all with one title; six clubs out of 13.

Sadly the restriction that clubs must spend “x” amount of the salary cap has seen some players play some players inflated salaries. The truth is that some clubs have managed the salary cap better than others and these are the clubs that have seen a smaller turnover of players and have tended to be those listed, who have in turn won honours. How many of the clubs in the A-League are in truth living beyond their means with the current salary cap? How many would welcome a lowered ceiling?

Damien Mori has been around the game a long time both as a player and now with eleven years experience under his belt as a coach in South Australia. His suggestion is one that should not be simply dismissed but one that should be listened to, looked at and thought through, as it could give the Australian youngsters and our national teams the boost they currently need.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ryan  |  August 19, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    In the case of the salary cap I’m not sure if it is just a case of correlation, not causation.

    CCM have to be one of the poorest clubs in the competition over the years but it is arguably one of the most successful.

    I think a salary cap can highlight other problems and unevenness in a league, such as training facilities, player development, competent administration.

    It’s also disingenuous to count folded clubs in the comparison, when they clearly had problems or wouldn’t have folded to begin with.

    Having a large supporter base, and being well funded because of it (see Victory and Sydney FC) certainly helps teams get the most out of their players as well as stopping them have a chance of folding, or even the unrest the possibility may cause (which a lot of other club’s suffer from) .

    If you compare the results over the last 10 season of the 7 current foundation clubs, I think you’d find they are more even then an open-market league such as the EPL or Bundesliga.

    I do agree though that there needs to be more youth being blooded in teams. A lot of coaches, using the excuse of their job on the line, do shy away from doing so, so their mentality needs changing across the board.

    Brisbane Roar, a team that is so dominant at the moment, is very successful at getting the balance between youth and experience right, be it under Ange or Mulvey. Which sees players like Brattan move seamlessly into position when Paartalu leaves, and youngsters like Yeboah rewarded with an OS contract. Or allows state-league players such as Frajic to become Socceroos.

    More teams (which force coaches to look to the state league and youth levels for players) and all coaches utilising the three extra youth positions teams are afforded in an A-League squad are a couple of steps to help improve this.

  • 2. Not The Footy Show  |  August 21, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Ryan thanks as always for your comment and sharing your views, they are always interesting to read and thought provoking.

    The salary cap has hampered many clubs, having to spend the minimum amount, and in fact I believe a few clubs did not spend that in recent seasons, as they simply cannot afford to. IN fact when the FFA ran Perth Glory they did not spen the minimum, so what does that say?

    Your point re a coach’s job being on the line is such a valid one, yet when owners stipulate finals must be made or they are out the door then they will always opt for tried and tested players rather than taking a risk with youth.

    The clubs who have been successful have given their coaches stability, Central Coast and Melbourne Victory. Interestingly both Sydney Championship winning coaches did not last long after their victories and Tony Popovic was given a four year deal at Western Sydney.So the point you make is backed up. Give the coach guarantees and he will mould a team and success will follow.

    There are many issues all linked transfers, salary caps, relegation etc. However ten years in we need to be looking at these issues now, and the need for some to be introduced and some to be discarded as we prepare for the next ten years. Otherwise as some players do the competition will become stagnant.


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