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An insight into the impact of the A-League’s marquee signings

Ever since the inaugural A-League season, clubs have been consistently on the lookout for marquee players. Players that are no longer in their primes, but are enough of a household name for fans to recognise.

It’s a simple, yet smart method of putting butts in seats and in most cases, genuinely adding to the quality of your side. It also puts the A-League on the map and helps to generate worldwide interest.

In the midst of rumours that Liverpool striker and Premier League star Daniel Sturridge could make a move Down Under this offseason, now’s as good a time as any have a look at the impact marquee players have made in the past.

It’s also a good opportunity to analyse whether the consistent use of such players has impacted on Australian football in a positive or negative manner.

We don’t need to look too far back to see who some of the biggest marquees were. Alessandro Del Piero, David Villa, Emile Heskey and most recently, Keisuke Honda.

These players amongst more are some of the best footballers their countries have produced, making their names in the biggest leagues in Europe. It’s no surprise that at least financially, they were a success in the A-League.

Del Piero, a World Cup winner and genuine legend of the game signed for Sydney in 2012. After over 500 appearances for the Bianconeri, he made the move to the Harbour City. Bear in mind that at the time, he turned down a move to Liverpool, one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

So it wasn’t as if his absolute best was behind him. He still had a lot to give.

He subsequent 24 goals from 48 games in the A-League goes a long way to proving that. He was still a star.

Emile Heskey joined the Newcastle Jets that same season and his impact, safe to say, left a little to be desired.

A solid first season was followed by a dismal second season, which saw him depart the club with a goal to game ratio twice that of Del Piero’s.

David Villa had the shortest stay of the four, managing four games at Melbourne City whilst out on loan from MLS club, New York City FC.

Despite his brief run, Villa garnered a following from all fans of Australian soccer, simply because he was still seen as a player in his prime. It was a real shame to have him leave so soon, but it will have done no harm to anyone or anything.

Finally, Keisuke Honda played at the Melbourne Victory this season and in short, he made a massive impact. One of Japan’s greatest ever, someone’s who’s travelled the world and been good wherever he’s been. Victory were lucky to have him.

But one has to think that with all these successful marquees, what’s the flip side of the coin?

Massimo Maccarone wasn’t the worst marquee in A-League history, but he was far from the best. He had been a modest striker at clubs like Empoli, Siena and Middlesborough.

However, as someone most fans won’t know, someone who was 37 when he arrived at the Brisbane Roar, some if not most may think that he, along with other marquees who had limited impacts, take away opportunities for youngsters.

In the past, we have seen numerous players who have been on A-League rosters move to NPL clubs across Australia, due to lack of opportunity.

One player we can pinpoint is current Avondale FC player Joey Katebian.

At just 23 years old, Katebian still has his best years ahead and for any A-League club, his ability and his age would present a great asset. But that’s not how the Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar saw it.

Katebian was forced to reevaluate after limited opportunities at the A-League clubs, with a mere five appearances combined from 2015-2017. He made the move to the NPL before the start of the 2018 season.

In 2015/2016, during his time at the Victory, Katebian was forced to compete with marquee players Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Gui Finkler. Whilst those two helped the Victory achieve good results in the league and abroad, Katebian didn’t seem to be in future plans for Kevin Muscat’s side.

It was much the same at the Roar. Katebian joined prior to the 16-17 season and was made to compete with seasoned attacker, Spaniard Manuel Arana.

Arana managed 18 games with no goals to his name, whilst Katebian was barely sighted.

Now we don’t know the full story behind why Joey wasn’t played too often by his A-League clubs, but it is fair to assume that the marquees were considered before him at just about every opportunity.

Now averaging a goal every two games and a proven talent at the level, A-League clubs should be looking at Katebian.

And he isn’t the only one who has been overlooked by A-League clubs in favour of marquees, despite their potential.

Jake Brimmer of Perth Glory is a great example of when prolonged gametime helps develop a young player into a pivotal member of a footballing side. In the case of Perth, he helped them make a Grand Final this season.

When done right, signing marquee players can do wonders for an organisation. But when done wrong, it can set the future of the club back several years.

Soccer is the most popular sport amongst youths in Australia. We should be giving them the most opportunities.

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Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

Socceroos and Matildas secure innovative fan engagement product

Socceroos and Matildas fans will be able to integrate Australia’s national football teams further into their daily lives, after the release of customisable homepage browser extensions for both sides.

Fan engagement company brandTurbo are the masterminds behind the product, with the Socceroos and Matildas becoming the first national football teams in the world to offer such a service.

The browsers are available now via Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, offering supporters the opportunity to access the latest team news, updates, highlights and features each time they decide to open a new browser.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson highlighted the importance of offering football fans innovative ways to further connect with the Socceroos and Matildas.

“Principle XI of the XI Principles for the future of Australian football highlights Football Australia’s intent to further enhance the strong reputations of our national teams and transform them into uniquely iconic brands,” Johnson said. “Discovering and implementing fresh and increasingly innovative digital solutions to engage supporters and keep them connected with our national teams is an important part of that process.”

“2021 is set to be a significant year of activity for both squads, as the Socceroos resume FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying under Graham Arnold, and the Westfield Matildas commence an exciting era under Tony Gustavsson. By downloading and using the Socceroos and Westfield Matildas homepage extensions, fans can ensure that they don’t miss a moment of each team’s progress, while also having the capability to customise their backgrounds with an array of images that showcase why we love our teams so much.

“We are pleased that the Socceroos and Westfield Matildas will be the first national teams globally to feature on the brandTURBO service,” Johnson concluded.

Fans can download the official Socceroos browser extension here and the official Matildas browser extension here (both for Windows and Mac OS).

Stephanie Brantz appointed Director of Football NSW

Football NSW have announced that Stephanie Brantz will serve as an Appointed Director of Football NSW for the next two years.

Brantz will join Stephen Hayes and Louie Apostolovski as appointed directors on the Football NSW board.

“We are delighted to have someone of Steph’s pedigree involved with our sport,” Football NSW Chairman Anter Isaac stated.

“We are confident that Steph will complement the existing Directors and contribute greatly to the continued growth and success of Football NSW going forward.”

Brantz was looking forward to facing the challenges ahead in her new role at the organisation.

“Having been involved in football for more than two decades in the media space and also as a coach and team manager at grassroots level, I’m looking forward to assisting the progression of the sport in NSW during an exciting and challenging time for the game,” she said.

Brantz is a well-respected Australian freelance television sport presenter, reporter, producer and commentator, previously sitting on the Board of Trustees at the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust.

Growing up in Brisbane, she represented Queensland in state level competitions in netball, basketball, swimming and athletics.

Brantz is a current ambassador for 1goal, an organisation which raises funds and awareness for underprivileged children across the globe.

She is also involved with the Australian Indigenous Education Fund through their student mentoring program, as well as the Chappell Foundation which focuses on eradicating homelessness.

 

Australian Match Officials named on FIFA Panel of International Referees for 2021

Football Australia has announced that 26 Australian Match Officials have been selected on the FIFA Panel of International Referees for 2021. 

Football Australia has announced that 26 Australian Match Officials have been selected on the FIFA Panel of International Referees for 2021. 

Football Australia Chairman and Chair of Football Australia’s Referees Committee, Mr Chris Nikou, congratulated each Match Official for securing their positions and continuing their strong contributions to refereeing. 

“It is welcome news and a sign of the esteem in which Australian Match Officials are held globally that Australia has secured a strong cohort of Match Officials on the international panel, and congratulations must go to each individual for displaying the dedication and professionalism required to once again be recognised by FIFA at the highest level,” Nikou said. 

“Due to the global impacts of COVID-19, 2020 was a lean year for international football – however it is expected that international fixtures and tournaments will increase throughout 2021. 

“As that occurs, FIFA will have 26 expert Australian Match Officials ready and eager for appointments, each with the ability to implement the Laws of the Game to a world class standard.” 

Football Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson, outlined how developing world class Australian Match Officials is key for the future of the sport.

“Match Officials are an important contributor to our game, particularly the on-field product, and are critical to football at all levels,” he said.

“Developing our Match Officials to a world class standard is a central focus of Principle Six of the XI Principles for the future of Australian football.

“In line with the measures proposed in Principle Six, Football Australia will continue to lead work to develop the pathways and opportunities available to Australian Match Officials, which will help service the grassroots and community game, our National Premier Leagues, as well as the Professional Leagues. Football Australia will also continue to appoint Australia’s top referees to the Professional Leagues.”

Five of Australia’s match officials – Kate Jacewicz, Casey Reibelt, Sarah Ho, Chris Beath, and Shaun Evans – have also been acknowledged by FIFA in the newly created role of Video Match Official (VMO). VMO’s are able to perform either Video Assistant Referee (VAR) or Assistant Video Assistant Referee (AVAR) roles at FIFA matches and tournaments where VAR is being implemented.  

Australian Match Officials on the FIFA Panel of International Referees 2021 as confirmed by Football Australia:

 

Name

Role

FIFA International Since

Kurt AMS

Referee

2019

Jonathan BARREIRO

Referee

2019

Chris BEATH

Referee

2011

Rebecca DURCAU

Referee

2017

Shaun EVANS

Referee

2017

Kate JACEWICZ

Referee

2011

Alexander KING

Referee

2020

Lara LEE

Referee

2019

Casey REIBELT

Referee

2014

Ashley BEECHAM

Assistant Referee

2013

Joanna CHARAKTIS

Assistant Referee

2019

Renae COGHILL

Assistant Referee

2015

Matthew CREAM

Assistant Referee

2000

Ryan GALLAGHER

Assistant Referee

2016

Owen GOLDRICK

Assistant Referee

2018

Lance GREENSHIELDS

Assistant Referee

2019

Sarah HO

Assistant Referee

2004

George LAKRINDIS

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew LINDSAY

Assistant Referee

2019

Nathan MACDONALD

Assistant Referee

2012

Laura MOYA

Assistant Referee

2017

Anton SHCHETININ

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew BEST

Futsal Referee

2017

Jonathon MOORE

Futsal Referee

2018

Ryan SHEPHEARD

Futsal Referee

2009

Darius TURNER

Futsal Referee

2013

*Match officials listed in bold also assigned to FIFA’s newly created Video Match Official (VMO) Panel.

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