21 March 2006

Lowy to Dismiss Bugno

Reports have surfaced in the last few days that Walter Bugno, popular chairman of A-League champion team Sydney FC, is being forced out of the club. Quite incredibly, Frank Lowy, Football Federation Australia chairman and proxy shareholder in Sydney FC, is said to be behind the push to ouster Bugno.

The club's bottom line losses of reportedly $3 million this season are clearly a major factor in this behind-the-scenes drama. Pierre Littbarski and Dwight Yorke alone have cost the club at least $1.5 million in salary payments. As a consequence, Lowy, via his son David who is a 25% shareholder in Sydney FC, has apparently instructed the club's board to divest from outlandish expenses on staff. Bugno was instrumental in bringing Yorke and Littbarski to Australia and it seems he'd protest such a move with his resignation or be forced to quit in another cost-cutting measure.

If the champions lose Littbarski, Yorke and Bugno, what will they gain in return? A new chairman sanctioned by Lowy will be installed. Family friend and Primo Smallgoods managing director Paul Lederer has been mooted. A new coach will be hired to replace Littbarski, presumably at well under half the cost. One might suggest Nick Theodorakopoulos or Branko Culina, but the pair have been overlooked before. Perhaps Assistant Coach Ian Crook can be promoted for a bargain basement price. Frank Farina is another candidate, but his relationship with Lowy may not remain friendly after Lowy sacked Farina from the Australian national team. It is only clear that the new coach will be someone with a substantially inferior profile and track record (as a player, if not a coach) to Littbarski. Finally, the absence of a star player may hit the club hardest. Undeniably, a large number of fans across Australia have purchased tickets to Sydney FC matches in order to watch Dwight Yorke play football. Lowy seems to favour the optomistic opinion that elite players are no longer required to sustain attendance figures, but even the FFA doesn't support this position. Matt Carroll continues to encourage clubs to seek guest players and marquee signings.

All of this bitter news is reminiscient of Soccer NSW's early exit from the development of Sydney FC in late-2004 due to the excessive interference of Frank Lowy, who was accused of making the club his "plaything".

While Lowy has overseen some of Football's greatest days in Australia, the news of factional in-fighting at the club aimed at the extremely well-liked Bugno has prompted supporters to speculate about darker days on the horizon. Can Australia's second richest man build a successful club without the support of Sydney's diehard football fans?

Update (Mar-23): Bugno is staying.

14 March 2006

Awards Night

The official Hyundai A-League awards ceremony for season 2005-06 was held last night, with fifth-placed team Perth Glory dominating the evening.

Johnny Warren Medal (Players Player of the Year): Bobby Despotovski (Perth)

Golden Boot: Alex Brosque (Queensland), Bobby Despotovski, Stewart Petrie (Central Coast), Archie Thompson (Melbourne) - all scored 8 goals during the regular season

Coach of the Year: Lawrie McKinna (Central Coast)

Rising Star Award (Best U-20 Player): Nick Ward (Perth)

Fair Play Award: Perth Glory

Referee of the Year: Mark Shield

10 March 2006

The Ferrari A-League?

Dwight Yorke is in the media an awful lot at the moment, typically for his 'All Night' reputation and issues concerning regular playing time before the World Cup, but this advertisement for Hyundai disguised as reportage is taking the soap opera a little too far:

The A-League is sponsored by Hyundai, which is also believed to have picked up part of the tab for Yorke, but its Australian public relations general manager denied last night speculation that Yorke's choice of motor vehicle was an issue with his company.

"I wasn't aware there was an issue with Dwight Yorke's contract with Sydney FC," Power said.

"But we at Hyundai understand that Mr Yorke's normal mode of transport is a Ferrari.

"While Hyundai is already at the top level of Japanese quality and finish, we don't pretend to be at Ferrari's level of sports-car appeal.

"The type of motor vehicle Mr Yorke chose to drive in his time in Australia was optional.

It it part of Dwight Yorke's contract with the A-League to have his name so transparently involved in the marketing of Hyundai motor vehicles? Evidently not, otherwise wouldn't Hyundai have made a few advertisements with him? We can only accept this as a cheap publicity shot (the standard reflex action of a PR manager) during a period when anything related to Dwight is fodder for the tabloids.

8 March 2006

Reports Explained

As you can see I've added a post-season report for each team, detailing player movements and other staff-oriented affairs. Each will be updated during the off-season, especially after milestone events like awards ceremonies and player signings.

I'll say it once and I'll say it now - all transfer speculations are just that and should be taken with a grain of salt, if at all. The rumour mill is full of stories about players moving clubs, but until the paperwork is signed it's best not to pay credence to any of it. I've simply included a few speculations here that continue to be claimed among fans and the media, or that seem so fascinating that they may actually be quite accurate (maybe). The idea is to have a little bit of fun, and not get too carried away with crazy transfer predictions.

When the time comes I'll shift the reports to the sidebar, keeping them just below the match reports for easy access.

Adelaide: Post-Season Report

Season Awards:

Club Champion - Carl Veart
Players' Player of the Year - Michael Valkanis
Best Team Man - Matthew Kemp
Rising Star - Adam van Dommele
Fans' Player of the Year - Shengqing Qu

Players In:

Dez Giraldi - Empoli (on loan)
Greg Owens - signed to a long-term deal
Bobby Petta - Bradford City

Players Out:

Louis Brain - released (now Adelaide Raiders)
Chad Bugeja - released (now White City Woodville)
Tony Hatzis - released (now Metro Stars)
Michael Matricciani - released (now Campbelltown City)

Players Re-signed:

Shengqing Qu

Players Retaining Contracts:

Richie Alagich
Ross Aloisi
Robert Bajic
Daniel Beltrame
Robert Cornthwaite
Angelo Costanzo
Travis Dodd
Aaron Goulding
Matthew Kemp
Lucas Pantelis - knee injury, out for season
Fernando Rech
Kristian Rees
Michael Valkanis
Adam van Dommele
Carl Veart

Players on Short-Term Contracts:

Jason Spagnuolo

Major Transfer Prospects:

Nathan Burns - Australian Institute of Sport
Bruce Djite - Australian Institute of Sport/Marconi Stallions

Pre-Season Friendlies:

Won 2-1 vs Select BEST Super League (July 12) - Valkanis, Kemp

Drew 2-2 vs Adelaide Galaxy (July 4) - Dodd, Veart

Central Coast: Post-Season Report

Season Awards:

Best Performed Player (CCM Medal) - Michael Beauchamp
Chairman's Award - John Hutchinson
Golden Boot - Stewart Petrie
Goal of the Year - Noel Spencer
Members Player of the Year - Andre Gumprecht

Players In:

Jamie McMaster - signed to a long-term deal
Brad Porter - signed to a long-term deal
Vuko Tomasevic - Marconi

Players Out:

Michael Beauchamp - on loan to FC Nürnberg
Leo Carle - released
Dean Heffernan - on loan to FC Nürnberg
Russell Woodruffe - released

Players Re-signed:

Nigel Boogaard
Andrew Clark
John Hutchinson
Adam Kwasnik
Stewart Petrie

Players Retaining Contracts:

Damien Brown
John Crawley - injured for most of season
Andre Gumprecht
Nick Mrdja
Paul O'Grady
Wayne O'Sullivan
Matthew Osman
Tom Pondeljak
Noel Spencer
Danny Vukovic
Alex Wilkinson

Players on Short-Term Contracts:

Oliver Bozanic
James Holland
Matthew Trott

Pre-Season Friendlies:

Won 2-0 vs Central Coast Lightning (June 28) - Kwasnik, Brown

Won 2-1 vs Young Socceroos (June 24) - Petrie, Kwasnik

Lost 1-2 vs Changchun Yatai (June 22) - Kwasnik

Won 3-0 vs Young Socceroos (June 20) - Porter, O'Grady, McMaster

Drew 2-2 vs Melbourne Victory, Lost 2-4 on penalties (June 17) - Pondeljak, Petrie

Won 4-1 vs Gladesville Spirit (June 7) - Kwasnik (3), Petrie

Melbourne: Post-Season Report

Season Awards:

Player of the Year (Victory Medal) - Kevin Muscat
Clubman of the Year - Adrian Leijer
Players' Player of the Year - Adrian Leijer
Golden Boot - Archie Thompson
Union Supporters Fans' Player of the Year - Richard Kitzbichler

Players In:

'Alessandro' Viana da Silva - Internacional
Grant Brebner - Dundee United
Adrian Caceres - Perth Glory
Claudio 'Claudinho' Andre Santos Assis - Atlético Paranaense
Helbert Frederico 'Fred' Carreiro da Silva - Guarani
Roddy Vargas - Green Gully Cavaliers

Players Out:

Ricky Diaco - released (now Bulleen)
Richard Kitzbichler - released (now Salzburg)
Carl Recchia - released (now Fawkner-Whittlesea)
Chris Tadrosse - mutual termination (now KFC Uerdingen)
Andy Vlahos - released (now Heidelberg)

Players Re-signed:

Vince Lia
Michael Ferrante
Steve Pantelidis
Daniel Piorkowski

Players Retaining Contracts:

Daniel Allsopp
Mark Byrnes
Geoffrey Claeys
Eugene Galekovic
Adrian Leijer
Kevin Muscat
Kristian Sarkies
Simon Storey
Michael Theoklitos
Archie Thompson

Pre-Season Friendlies:

Won 3-0 vs Oakleigh Cannons (July 5) - Fred, Storey, Caceres

Won 6-1 vs Changchun Yatai (June 24) - Allsopp (3), Ferrante (2), Brebner

Drew 1-1 vs Young Socceroos, Lost 5-6 on penalties (June 22) - Caceres

Won 3-1 vs Changchun Yatai (June 20) - Fred (2), Claudinho

Drew 2-2 vs Central Coast Mariners, Won 4-2 on penalties (June 17) - Allsopp, Brebner

Won 7-0 vs Kingston (June 9) - Allsopp (3), Caceres (2), Fred, Vargas

Won 3-0 vs Altona Magic (May 31) - Muscat, Byrnes, Ferrante

Won 4-0 vs Green Gully (May 24) - Allsopp (3), Fred

Drew 2-2 vs Bulleen (May 19) - Caceres, Piorkowski

Won 1-0 vs Richmond Eagles (May 10) - Lia

Newcastle: Post-Season Report

Major Staff Changes:

In - Nick Theodorakopoulos (head coach), Gary Van Egmond (assistant), Ray Younis (strength and conditioning coach)

Out - Richard Money (head coach, now Walsall), Jean-Paul de Marigny (assistant), Lee Clark (fitness coach)

Players In:

Adam D'Apuzzo - Marconi
Tony Faria - Marconi
Joel Griffiths - Leeds United
Ben Kennedy - Broadmeadow Magic
Paul Okon - APOEL FC
Steven Old - YoungHeart Manawatu
Tolgay Ozbey - Blacktown City
Jess Kedwell van Strattan - Hellas Verona

Players Out:

Guy Bates - mutual termination
Mateo Corbo - released
Richard Johnson - released (now New Zealand Knights)
Paul Kohler - released
Ante Milicic - mutual termination (now Queensland Roar)
Franco Parisi - released
Andy Petterson - mutual termination
Allan Picken - sold to Walsall
Liam Reddy - mututal termination (now Queensland Roar)
Brett Studman - released
Ned Zelic - mutual termination

Players Re-signed:

Vaughan Coveny

Players Retaining Contracts:

Mark Bridge
Nick Carle
Craig Deans
Andrew Durante
Steve Eagleton
Tarek Elrich
Labinot Haliti
Jade North
Matt Thompson
Jobe Wheelhouse

Pre-Season Friendlies:

Won 1-0 vs NSW Institute of Sport (July 1) - Haliti

Won 2-1 vs Manly United (June 28) - Bridge, ?

Won 2-0 vs NBN State League Select (June 21) - Bridge, Carle

New Zealand: Post-Season Report

Major Staff Changes:

In - Paul Nevin (football manager), Eddie Krncevic (international player agent), Kevin O'Leary (fitness/goalkeeping trainer)

Out - John Adshead (football manager), Tommy Mason (assistant coach), Mick Leonard (goalkeeping coach), Kenny McMillan (fitness trainer)

Players In:

Malik Buari - Woking
Che Bunce - Waikato FC
Adam Casey - Wollongong Wolves
Gregory Duruz - FC Thun
Scott Gemmill - Oxford United
Richard Johnson - Newcastle United Jets
Sime Kovacevic - Sunshine Georgies
Jonathan Richter - Queensland Roar
Dani Rodrigues - Bournemouth
Jonas Salley - South Melbourne
Michael Turnbull - Kingston City
Michael White - Canterbury United

Players Out:

Kris Bright - released
Jeremy Brockie - Sydney FC
Ronnie Bull - mutual termination (now Rushden and Diamonds)
Zenon Caravella - declined a new contract (now Sydney Olympic)
Jeremy Christie - Perth Glory
Ben Collett - released (AGOVV Apeldoorn)
Steve Fitzsimmons - released (now Essendon)
Danny Hay - mutual termination
Naoki Imaya -released (now Marconi)
Josh Maguire - released
Glen Moss - released
Joshua Rose - released
John Tambouras - released (now Pahang)
Cole Tinkler - released
Simon Yeo - mutual termination (now Lincoln City)
Xiaobin Zhang - released (now Kingston City)

Players Retaining Contracts:

Darren Bazeley
Sean Devine
Neil Emblen
Noah Hickey
Danny Milosevic
Frank van Eijs

Perth: Post-Season Report

Season Awards:

Most Glorious Player (MGP) - Bobby Depotovski
Players' Player of the Year - Bobby Despotovski
Supporters' Player of the Year - Nick Ward
WA Coach's Award - Nick Ward
Media Award - Billy Celeski
Volunteers Player of the Year - Jason Petkovic
Club Man of the Year - David Tarka

Major Staff Changes:

In - Ron Smith (head coach)

Out - Steve McMahon (head coach), Damian Mori (assistant), Alan Vest (caretaker head coach)

Players In:

Leo Bertos - Worksop Town
Jeremy Christie - New Zealand Knights
Stan Lazaridis - Birmingham
Josip Magdic - Floreat Athena
Mark Robertson - Stockport
Ryan Townsend - signed to a long-term deal
Alex Vrteski - Australian Institute of Sport
Adrian Webster - Darlington

Players Out:

Adrian Caceres - Melbourne Victory
Billy Celeski - released (now Bulleen)
Brian Deane - mutual termination
Henry Fa'arodo - released (now Essendon)
Matt Horsley - retired
Hiroyuki Ishida - mutual termination
Milan Jovanic - released
Steve McMahon Jr - released (now Inglewood)
Scott Miller - retired
Damian Mori - retired from A-League (now Adelaide City)
Neil Teggart - mutual termination
Nick Ward - Queens Park Rangers
Daniel Vasilevski - mutual termination (now Altona)

Players Re-signed:

Jamie Coyne
Bobby Despotovski
Jamie Harnwell
David Micevski
Naum Sekulovski

Players Retaining Contracts:

Simon Colosimo
Ante Kovacevic
Jason Petkovic
David Tarka
Stuart Young

Pre-Season Friendlies:

Won 3-0 vs Sorrento (July 9) - Despotovski, Townsend, Webster

Won 2-0 vs Floreat Athena (July 4) - Despotovski, Micevski

Won 4-0 vs Perth SC (June 27) - Despotovski (2), ?

Queensland: Post-Season Report

Season Awards:

Gary Wilkins Gold Medal - Hyuk-su Seo
Players' Player of the Year - Hyuk-su Seo & Alex Brosque
Golden Boot - Alex Brosque
Supporter’s Club Player of the Year - Hyuk-soo Seo

Players In:

Simon Lynch - Dundee
Ante Milicic - Newcastle United Jets
Sasa Ognenovski - Fawkner-Whittlesea
Andrew Packer - Sydney FC
Liam Reddy - Newcastle United Jets
Dario Vidosic - Australian Institute of Sport
Marcus Wedau - VFL Osnabrück

Players Out:

Michael Baird - mutual termination (now Universitatea Craiova)
Alex Brosque - Sydney FC
Royce Brownlie - released
Osvaldo Carro - released
Karl Dodd - mutual termination (was Universitatea Craiova, now Falkirk)
Todd Gava - released
Scott Higgins - mutual termination (trialling with Falkirk)
Warren Moon - released
Jonti Richter - released
Jordan Simpson - mutual termination (now BSC Young Boys)
Tyler Simpson - released (now Pine Rivers)
Shin Tae-yong - retired, migrated to coach
Reece Tollenaere - released

Players Re-signed:

Seo Hyuk-soo
Stuart McLaren

Players Retaining Contracts:

Remo Buess
Spase Dilevski
Chad Gibson
Ben Griffin
Josh McCloughan
Matt McKay
Massimo Murdocca
Reinaldo Elias Da Costa
Tom Willis

Players on Short-Term Contracts:

Tim Smits

Pre-Season Friendlies:

Won 3-1 vs Brisbane Football Division One Select (July 12) - Dilevski, Ognenovski, Robbie Kruse

Won 8-1 vs Burdekin Invitational XI (Julu 7) - McLaren (4), Milicic (2), McKay, Willis

Won 5-0 vs Brisbane Football Division One Select (July 5) - Packer, Ognenovski, Henry Fa'arodo, Smits, Tahj Minniecon

Won 4-3 vs Souths (July 4) - Milicic, ?

Won 4-0 vs Gold Coast XI (June 28) - ?

Sydney: Post-Season Report

Season Awards:

Player of the Year - Clint Bolton
Defender of the Year - Alvin Ceccoli
Midfielder of the Year - David Carney
Forward of the Year - Dwight Yorke
Members Player of the Year - David Carney
Chairman’s Award - Mark Rudan
Player of the Finals Series - Steve Corica
Goal of the Year - Alvin Ceccoli (versus Adelaide United in Round 21)
Golden Boot - Saso Petrovski

Major Staff Changes:

In - Terry Butcher (head coach)

Out - Pierre Littbarski (head coach)

Players In:

Jeremy Brockie - New Zealand Knights
Alex Brosque - Queensland Roar
Ruben Zadkovich - signed to a long-term deal

Players Out:

Matthew Bingley - released
Steve Laurie - mutual termination (now Oakleigh)
Andrew Packer - Queensland Roar
Alejandro Salazar - mutual termination

Players Re-signed:

David Carney

Players Retaining Contracts:

Clint Bolton
Alvin Ceccoli
Steve Corica
Iain Fyfe
Terry McFlynn
Robbie Middleby
Mark Milligan
Wade Oostendorp
Justin Pasfield
Sasho Petrovski
Mark Rudan
Ufuk Talay
Jacob Timpano
Dwight Yorke
David Zdrilic

Players on Short-Term Contracts:

Nikolai Topor-Stanley

6 March 2006

Massive New TV Deal

It comes after the Grand Final, but it's possibly the most important news all season.

The FFA is in negotiations with Pay TV provider Fox concerning a revision to the broadcast rights contract for the A-League. The Sydney Morning Herald has announced that a revised TV deal could see the current $750,000 per season contract nullified and replaced with a new rights deal worth $20 million per season.

This would be a massive shot in the arm for the league, with every club facing multi-million debts after the first season. There should also be a clamour among sponsors wanting to jump aboard if the restructured deal goes through.

It appears that the only problem, and it is a significant one, is Fox Sports also wants the rights to World Cup games and any A-League matches played in Asia. SBS presently holds a contract with the FFA for free-to-air broadcast of national team games.

Sydney Win

Sydney FC have won the inaugural A-League Grand Final after a closely contested 1-0 victory over the Central Coast Mariners. A bumper crowd of 41,689 attended the match. Sydney captain Dwight Yorke won the Joe Marston Medal for best on ground.