A loan deal in Australia. Words we have only been familiar with since 2018 when the FFA decided to allow loans, under the presumption that young players will play greater minutes, which would assist in young player development. Otherwise, since 2005, our national league has restricted the ability for clubs to loan, pay for or simply transfer players between each other.
This has left us in quite a pickle.
In FIFA’s Global Transfer Market Report (2019), they have stated Australia had received only $1.9 million (USD) in transfer fees, which evidently was a 62% decrease from the previous year of 2018. This amount has left Australia sitting at 8th in the Asian Football Confederation market, well below our greatest competitors. Japan had $29.4 million (USD) outgoing, a 75.5% increase from 2018. Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia, $26.6 million (USD) and $22.2 million (USD) respectively. How can we improve upon our national team and strive for greatness once again, as we achieved in the 2015 Asian Cup triumph, without substantial improvements in our development? It will take a lot more than u23 domestic loan deals.
Ramy Najjarine, Moudi Najjar, Joey Champness and Noah James are the only domestic loans transferred this season between our 12 professional clubs. Loan deals certainly excite the football landscape in Australia and most definitely spark development, but are they enough? Not on their own. Within a salary capped league, clubs are still forced to choose between maturity, which can win titles, or persist with youth, which can build the future. Clubs, unable to keep multiple players on the books, must make a choice. Maturity normally brings success and therefore financial stability – more often than young players. I mean, you can’t win anything with kids… right?
How are clubs meant to persist with young players at a senior level without the consideration to do so? We have seen players break into the professional scene of Australian football, just to fall back into an NPL or State League standard, just because of the lack of contract opportunities. Wade Dekker for one, plays a few games off the bench for Melbourne City, scores a well finished goal against Sydney FC – then nothing. Back to Victorian NPL.
Al-Duhail, the domestic reigning champions of Qatar currently have 11 Qatari players on loan. Newcastle Jets have the most players out on loan in Australia, with two out in the A-League and another two overseas. If the champions of Qatar can prioritise youth development, why can’t A-League clubs? To further my point, who won the most recent Asian Cup again?
As the newly rebranded Football Australia consult and discuss the addition of a “fit-for-purpose” transfer system, we need to hold them accountable and ensure that these major flaws in Australian development are acknowledged and addressed appropriately.
This is imperative for the future of Australian Football.