Pre-season is proving to be a much needed cash injection for Aussie A-League clubs, who are selling off some of their best players to international teams before the new season.
European clubs have been using the A-League to poach strong players for a fraction of the cost of a local player.
A couple of weeks ago, Sydney FC superstar Terry Antonis secured a four-year contract for Italian Serie A team Parma. The club negotiated a $300,000 transfer figure to be paid in installments.
Melbourne Victory youngster Marcos Rojas was poached by German Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart recently, also on a four-year deal, but only paid $180,000 under FIFA compensation laws.
These figures, although they seem high, pale in comparison to international transfer fees bigger clubs demand. European clubs have been using the A-League to poach strong players for a fraction of the cost of a local player.
We’re not talking thousands, we’re talking millions.
Apart from the rare free trade, each transfer varies from 1 million euros, all the way up to 40 million euros.
This year, the Spanish La Liga team Barcelona spent a whopping 56 million euros to get Santos attacker Neymar.
60 million euros was spent securing Colombian attacker Radamel Falcao from Athletica Madrid to Monaco.
Yet these ludicrous sums of money might not be invested in the way many would expect.
According to a European Commission study, Football clubs spend around €3 billion a year on player transfers, but very little of this money trickles down to the lower leagues.
Less than 2 per cent of transfer fees filter down to the smaller clubs which are essential for developing new talent.
Now they’ve found a cheaper solution and are sticking with poaching Australian talent.
But the football culture in Australia is in part to blame for promoting this behaviour. Our young footballers all aspire to play internationally, and don’t feel like they achieve the best of their ability in the Australian Leagues. You don’t ‘make it’ until you play for the big teams.
This lack of faith in our football league is sad. It’s up to the FFA, which is slowly working towards unifying the lower leagues to make Australia a bigger and stronger player in international football.