ANALYSISAnge Postecoglou endures a lot of heartache – and plenty of opprobrium – as he gets rids of the old and brings in the new, only to have his best-laid plans ripped to shreds by a swoop on three emerging stars. Tough gig, being an A-League coach.While his counterparts in rugby league and rugby union are only just getting used to the idea that they might lose some of the best players to overseas clubs, it’s a dynamic football coaches in this country have become accustomed to for years. Almost 30 years, in fact, since the trickle became a flood. The World Cup campaign of 1985 featured an entirely home-grown squad. Four years later, Frank Arok had to bring back a core of expatriates to take on Israel, and four years later Eddie Thomson was more like a travel agent than a Socceroos coach. These days the first-choice national team is drawn entirely from abroad, and we all know what Pim Verbeek thinks of the A-League. Not much.But if the A-League is that bad, someone should tell the market. Full-time professionalism, and working conditions which are as good as many in the world, hasn’t stopped players wanting to live the dream, and overseas clubs are prepared to share it. Since the A-League kicked off five years ago, the exodus has hardly skipped a beat. Last week’s fire sale of Brisbane Roar trio Adam Sarota, Tommy Oar and Michael Zullo underlines the obvious. The economics of our domestic league dictate that clubs will always struggle to make ends meet. The A-League will always be a selling league, but that doesn’t diminish its relevance. I mean, who had even seen Oar kick a football this time last year? One door closes, and another opens. Isaka Cernak now gets his chance as the production line keeps turning.But while the more things change, the more they stay the same, one discernible difference is now emerging. At last, at long last, the signs are there that Australian clubs are starting to get reasonable compensation. Indeed it’s interesting to see the outcry in some quarters that FC Utrecht have got themselves a snip by paying $1.8 million for the Brisbane trio. True enough, the timing isn’t the best, but the club’s cash-strapped owners have got themselves a lot more than they would have even a few years ago for commensurate talent. The fact is Sarota figured only sporadically in the first team, Zullo had some nightmare moments as a converted left back, and Oar finished the season as a shadow of his former self. Could Brisbane have got more? Absolutely. Have they been ripped off? No.Since the A-League kicked off, local clubs have earned themselves just over $12m in transfer fees. With the exception of Melbourne Victory’s bold outlay last season in paying $800,000 to secure Carlos Hernandez on a permanent contract, the rest is theoretically profit. A-League clubs aren’t in the business of paying transfer fees, but they are certainly in the business of receiving them. Nobody has done that better than Newcastle Jets owner Con Constantine, who drives a notoriously hard bargain, and has been rewarded for it (interestingly, of the foundation clubs, Sydney FC has done the worst). Agents grumble about Constantine’s negotiating tactics – who can forget the drawn-out saga surrounding Joel Griffiths’s move to China early this year? But there’s grudging respect, and an understanding that it’s not only about the Jets. Truth is, everyone benefits from foreign currency coming into the game.And there’s another thing. Look at the panel, carefully, and take note of how many of the players have since returned to the A-League for free.
Nanjing Night Net