Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Marquee Lite - update

Les Murray, in his latest opinion piece on the World Game site, has come out strongly in favour of the FFA's "Youth Marquee" initiative. He states his case fairly enough, but in mentioning the current glut of young talent at the Queensland Roar, he has in fact touched on one of the weaknesses of the plan.

It often happens that two or three promising youngsters make their breakthrough at a club at the same time. This has been the case in banana country, with Robbie Kruse, Michael Zullo and Tahj Minniecon all making solid contributions to Queensland's 2007/08 season (not least from an entertainment perspective). Who gets chosen for the one "Youth Marquee" slot?

This is one of the most illogical aspects of the plan. The potential for disunity within a club squad as a result is considerable. And, again, the grounds for suspicion, given the existing Sydney FC-FFA nexus, are hardly negligible; a little bird has made me aware that Mark Bridge's salary will be, shall we say, within Marquee Junior range.

As for Les's other point, that youth are not given a sufficient run in the A-League, there is evidence on both sides. Certainly, in the case of Nick Tsattalios and (to a lesser extent) Kaz Patafta and Nikita Rukavystya, club coaches were shown to be a little on the conservative side last season. Even Frank Farina didn't actually make use of his young hopefuls until the injuries mounted, and Queensland were crying out for some wholesale changes following their dismal start to the campaign.

But there have been success stories, too. Not least the introduction of Nathan Burns at Adelaide, James Holland at Newcastle, Dario Vidosic at Queensland, and even Ruben Zadkovich late in 2005/06.

But we have seen some cases of younger players making a dazzling debut, yet failing to maintain their early momentum. This was certainly the case with Zadkovich, and I would argue that it applies even to Vidosic and now Zullo to a lesser extent.

In the eternal balancing act, the coaches should probably take a few more risks now that the competition has built a solid foundation. But I don't think that the A-League coaching fraternity has been quite as craven as Les alleges.


I read your blog frequently, but this is my first comment.

2 things about the youth marquee:

1. The extra money should initially free some extra room under the salary cap (ie the wage that previoulsy being paid to the youth marquee) - so hopefully the money that was spent on one youth player may be shared among the other 2.

2. The effect of the extra money may well be to drive up the wages being received by most youth players. A club will have to offer decent pay to a non-marquee youth player who could be earning $150k at another club. With any luck, clubs may devote more of their salary cap to youth, at least to more established players, and may well then feel an obligation to start playing them.
Both true enough, but are either of those points particularly compelling reasons for directing all the youth marquee money towards one player? Not to my way of thinking.

Another thing: if the clubs now start paying their other young players commensurately with a youth marquee, where is that going to leave some of the older players?

In focusing on the plight of the younger guys, I think they've maybe overlooked some of the indignities that older players have endured, salary-wise, given the fairly strict cap that was applied to the A-League initially (and of which, by the way, I was and still am in favour). Case in point: Peter Tsekenis, a player with a long and distinguished career in the NSL, was offered a contract in the A-League's first year that was utterly derisory given his quality and experience. So he told them to get stuffed, stuck with Bankstown City and has been able to use the rest of the year (i.e. when the NSWPL is finished) working in other areas.
I agree with your points Mike

Many of the FFA decisions appear to be designed to address specific requests from individual clubs. This seems to be about keeping Bruce D at Adelaide.

For clubs that are struggling financially this will be met with a groan. I see Con C's point at Newcastle - just pay another $450,000 and you cn keep all this talent - oh thanks great reward for nearly going out backwards in season 1.

Any raise in the salary cap favours the rich - Sydney, Central Coast and Adelaide (not sure about Melbourne's position these days).

The Gold Coast decision probably meant that the journeymen plays didn't all get a massive pay rise. That is what the existing clubs would have worried about.
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