Soccerscene is committed to promoting, enhancing and growing the soccer industry in Australia. We believe soccer news has captured the attention of grassroots soccer clubs, apparel and equipment suppliers – which extends to governing bodies, club administrators and industry decision makers.
Swedish sensation Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been rumoured to be making a move to the A-League
In recent times, rumours have begun circling that Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be making a move to the A-League.
At face value, ‘Ibra’ in the A-League sounds like a fantastic proposition.
He’s a living legend who has won titles just about everywhere he’s gone. AC Milan, Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan, Ajax, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United are all huge clubs he has played for during his illustrious career.
Say what you will about his arrogance and ego, but it’s a part of why he’s so revered. He doesn’t put on a mask, he is unequivocally himself.
Zlatan would instantly become the biggest name in the league today and one of the biggest names to ever come Down Under.
The exposure that soccer in Australia would get as a result of his arrival in the country would be phenomenal. When Zlatan first arrived in Los Angeles as a part of his move to the MLS, it was the biggest soccer news story at the time. And the MLS is a much larger competition than the A-League.
People from across the globe would start watching A-League fixtures and stadiums would be packed to the rafters.
In a time where soccer in Australia could use a popularity boost, Zlatan would bring people across from other sports and be the star attraction in Australia.
Shirts sales would skyrocket. Fans from other clubs would buy shirts purely because it’s Zlatan.
I mean, you’d be silly not to.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the A-League could be the necessary sugar hit the A-League needs. But that could be all it is. A sugar hit. A flash in the pan.
David Villa was fantastic when he was loaned out to Melbourne City, albeit for the mere four games.
Ibra would probably play more than four matches, but the rumours are also stating that he could be in the country for as little as six weeks.
That’s nowhere near enough time.
Once Zlatan leaves, any overseas exposure that arose from his arrival in Australia would instantly dissipate. Fans from other sports would return to their sports of choice.
Basically, any and all interest garnered from Zlatan being in the league would go with Zlatan.
Australian-based soccer fans would understandably feel aggrieved by his departure. There are also many soccer fans based here that do not follow the A-League, instead preferring the European leagues.
After Zlatan leaves, where do you think they’ll go? Back to their Optus Sport subscriptions.
When you look at Zlatan’s playing career, you’ll notice one recurring theme.
At all but one club he’s played for, he’s never made more than 90 appearances.
He made 122 for Paris Saint-Germain during his four year stint in France’s capital, but he has never been one to stay the course with one club.
Four years is indeed his longest tenure at any club but even that’s lower than most players.
What does all this mean? He’s not a loyal player. He doesn’t play for the club. His character is such that he only ever sees what’s in it for him.
What would that mean for whichever A-League club would pick him up?
It would mean that it’s nothing more than a cash grab for him. It would almost be paid leave for someone like Zlatan.
He would train once or twice and play the weekend’s game. But he wouldn’t be giving it his all. His heart wouldn’t be in it.
Yes, he plays with passion and hunger unlike 99% of every player out there. But it’s not as if he’s playing for any reward other than money.
There wouldn’t be much motivation for him.
As a club, do you want your highest paid player to be someone who would be apathetic? I certainly wouldn’t, nor should any other club’s executives.
Zlatan would be a huge coup for the A-League. His name is enough to draw a crowd wherever he goes.
But if his rumoured stint in the A-League would be as little as six to eight weeks, would it be a worthwhile investment for the league and its stakeholders?
The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have appointed three new senior executives who will develop a commercial and marketing function to be part of the APL’s ambitious growth strategy.
All three personnel have had extensive experience in marketing related to sport and global organisations, bringing across new ideas to promote the game.
Ryan Sandilands is set to be the APL’s first Commercial Director, tasked with supercharging the commercial and operational capabilities of the APL and club commercial teams. Sandilands is a sports and entertainment industry veteran of 20 years, having led commercial growth and strategic planning for companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Women’s Tennis Association, City Football Group and AEG.
Rob Nolan will lead the marketing and data operations function, as APL focusses on a new future about how it engages with football fans on a one-to-one basis. Nolan brings over 20-years of global marketing experience from six countries, including Kayo Sports, News Corp and iflix, one of south-east Asia’s biggest entertainment subscription VOD services. Nolan has also spent time building data capability to fuel growth with data agency Digital Alchemy and various telcos including Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and O2 in the UK.
Stacey Knox joins the APL marketing team to overhaul their operational capability to prepare the execution of the APL’s ambitious direct-to-consumer strategy. Knox has more than two decades of experience in global marketing organisations and agencies, including the Coca-Cola Company, News Limited and Inchcape. She’s also a coach and mentor to industry bodies and not-for-profit organisations.
“This team is here to innovate and supercharge the commercial and marketing capabilities of the APL as we realise our reinvention as a leading football entertainment company,” APL Chief Commercial Officer Ant Hearne said.
“We’re seeing the most entertaining football on the pitch and it’s our job to take that directly to fans with a world class fan experience and content offering.”
These new appointments add to the recently announced Managing Director Danny Townsend, Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke, Chief Commercial Officer Ant Hearne, Strategy and Digital Director Michael Tange, and Deputy Commissioner Tracey Scott in the APL leadership group.
Socceroos legend John Aloisi has declared he wants to coach again “sooner rather than later”, hoping to get that opportunity locally in the A-League or overseas in the future.
Aloisi, who currently works as a pundit for Optus Sport, last coached the Brisbane Roar to two top-four finishes in the A-League, in his first two seasons at the club.
The 45-year-old would eventually leave his post in late 2018, during his fourth season as manager at the club.
In a wide-ranging chat with Soccerscene, the man who scored that famous penalty against Uruguay touches on the current status of youth development in Australian football, the need for a national second division, his future ambitions in coaching, the quality of local coaches, his playing career and the upcoming Women’s World Cup.
First of all John, the current state of affairs due to COVID-19 has seen a lot more youngsters get playing time in the A-League. Which young players have particularly stood out for you and how significant is it for youth development in this country for these players to get valuable minutes?
John Aloisi: Yeah I think it’s very important for the players to get minutes. If you go around the world, the best leagues do have players at an early age playing a lot of games of football. You can do all the training in the world, but if you don’t play games you’re not going to improve as a footballer.
Pretty much every team in the A-League has had young players that are really standing out. It’s good to see the young Australian strikers at the top of the scoring charts, you’ve got Kuol at Central Coast Mariners, Wenzel-Halls at Brisbane Roar and D’Agostino at Perth all up there.
It’s a great opportunity for all the young players at the moment, because you’ve got the Olympic Games just around the corner. I think it’s exciting for Graham Arnold and for the young boys, if they do well they could be on the plane to Tokyo.
You played senior matches as a 15-16-year-old at Adelaide City at the start of your career. Personally, how vital were those games in your development as a player?
John Aloisi: I only really played one NSL game, but I played a lot of the cup games and whatever else, but at the time it was crucial. But look, you had to be good enough or else you didn’t play. Adelaide City didn’t just throw in young players for the sake of it, they had a very experienced squad. For me to play with the experienced players around me, I remember just in the starting 11, you had Milan Ivanovic, Alex Tobin, there were internationals, Tony Vidmar was there, Joe Mullen, Ernie Tapai and so on. I learnt a lot off them, not only in games but also in training, so I was fortunate in that way.
When I then went to Europe, I started playing at 17 in the first team for Royal Antwerp, so it was really valuable to get those minutes at that age to improve as a footballer.
Another thing that will aid youth development is a national second tier. There’s been a lot of talk recently about the right model for it in Australia; do you support the introduction of a full, home and away, national second division with 12-16 teams?
John Aloisi:Yeah, I do. I think if they can get that formula right in terms of the financials, that would definitely improve the younger players. They will get more opportunities then and there will be a different pathway for a lot of them. At the moment, it’s still quite tough for a lot of these young talented players to come up into an A-League side. If you have more teams, it will definitely help. You will also make it exciting with promotion and relegation battles and I think it will only be beneficial.
So, I do support a national second division and I believe in the future there will be one, it’s just the matter of how they go about getting one and how it works financially.
Moving on a bit from that, Aussie coaches have also been given more of a chance recently in the A-League. How do you see the current quality of Australian coaches and what type of differences have you noticed since you began coaching Melbourne Heart nine years ago?
John Aloisi: The quality of the coaches has been there for a long period. I think what’s changed and helped the quality is the likes of Ange Postecoglou and Graham Arnold, because they set a standard. From there, the standard keeps on going up and coaches keep on improving. A lot of Australian coaches have worked under them or with them, asked them questions and so forth, but also when you coach against them you learn a lot.
It’s a good thing to see more of these Australian coaches coming through.
You have obviously had a couple of senior coaching positions in your time, like I said with the then Melbourne Heart and also the Brisbane Roar. Do you have any further ambitions to coach again in the A-League or overseas in the future?
John Aloisi: Yeah I definitely do, I want to coach again. I hope its sooner rather than later, but it has to be the right job and right environment. Hopefully that will happen here in Australia.
In the future I would love to go back overseas and coach, I was there as a player, but who knows what the future holds. But coaching is definitely still on my radar and hopefully I can get that opportunity again soon.
Touching on that playing career overseas, you played in top leagues around the world including La Liga, the Premier League and Serie A. What can you tell me in regards to the difference in football cultures in these three countries based on your experiences there?
John Aloisi: It was very different when I was there. The Serie A was very defence minded, especially the lower teams, but it’s changed quite a bit now in terms of the way they like to play their football. It’s a lot more open and attacking, but back then the only thing that mattered were results. It didn’t matter how you won; the defence was key. It wasn’t always that great to play there as a striker, because we didn’t have many chances in a game.
England was a lot more open. The supporters there, if you tried, ran and fought, they would applaud your efforts. I enjoyed playing in England, it was a great atmosphere at the games and as a striker you got more opportunities to score goals than probably all of the three big leagues I played in.
The one that was a combination of both (Italy and England) cultures was probably the Spanish league. I just really enjoyed the style of football, the culture and the way they thought about football.
The three countries were all different, but football was number one, so it was great to be in countries where football means everything to them.
You obviously had a long successful career as a player, what would you say is the best moment you had in your playing career?
John Aloisi: The highlight for me was playing at the World Cup for the Socceroos. It was a dream as a kid, we hadn’t qualified for so many years. Watching the World Cups when I was growing up, was always without Australia there. It was exciting to play at a World Cup, but it was also just the whole build up…it was amazing when we finally got there. It was definitely a highlight for me and I’m pretty sure for all the players that played in that World Cup in 2006.
I think also playing in the Spanish Cup final for Osasuna, it was my last game for the club. To play in the Copa Del Rey final, the only time in Osasuna’s 100-year history to make a major final, was also a massive highlight.
They are probably two of things that stand out the most.
Lastly John, looking ahead we have the Women’s World Cup here in 2023 and it could be a real game changer for Australian football. How important is it to capitalise on this event, something the game didn’t really execute with the 2015 Asian Cup?
John Aloisi: It’s massive. First of all, I believe the Matildas can win it. We have a great generation of talented women players, so hopefully we can win the World Cup and that will really boost the game on many levels.
But, it’s also about getting the infrastructure right for the Women’s World Cup, which will end up helping us in the future in terms of football at all levels. I’m talking about training facilities, purpose-built stadiums for football and that’s when it will be a lot easier to have a national second division and those type of things. When you have the infrastructure right, you can produce better players. That’s what we want to do, produce world-class players, both women and men.
It’s important to get the government backing us, because if they do that, we will get the facilities right.
Football Australia have released their 2021 Australian Football Domestic Match Calendar (DMC).
The key features of the 2021 Australian Football DMC include registration periods for Australia’s professional competitions, national team activity windows, A-League and W-League competition windows, final round match dates for the FFA Cup, as well as a standalone spot for the Festival of Football Week, which is set to be introduced in connection with the 2021 FFA Cup Final.
FA CEO James Johnson believes 2021 will be a year of transition towards a completely unified approach for Australian football.
“Flowing on from the unbundling of the Professional Leagues from Football Australia, an important regulatory function for Football Australia as the game’s Governing Body is to set the Domestic Match Calendar in order to lead the realignment of Australia’s football competitions and connect the football pyramid both domestically and globally,” Johnson said.
“The release of the 2021 DMC to football stakeholders, and to the public, is an important step in that process, and we expect to achieve even greater alignment in 2022 as COVID-19 eases and we apply key learnings and insights from 2021.
“Australia’s Domestic Match Calendar will play a vital role in Football Australia’s proposed new and modern transfer system by articulating domestic Transfer Windows which will provide opportunities to progressive clubs at all levels of the sport to conduct player transfer business and generate new revenue streams which can be deployed into the ongoing training and development of players, and the clubs themselves.
“The Domestic Match Calendar will also be fundamental to bringing to life numerous measures proposed in the XI Principles, which in turn supports our bold and exciting new strategic direction for Australian football. The DMC will aid the optimisation of competitions across all levels of the game, help us to reimagine the player pathway, help to increase match minutes for players both in club football and with our national teams, and support football as a sport which is played all year round,” he said.
The 2021 Australian Football Domestic Match Calendar can be viewed here.