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FFA propose third A-League marquee slot

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FFA’s chances of enticing Tim Cahill to the A-League could receive a lift, after clubs responded positively to the concept of a third marquee slot reserved for only the most marketable of stars.

The governing body has proposed a remodelled guest-player format it hopes will aid its drive to boost the game’s profile amid crucial negotiations for a new and improved broadcast deal.

Brought up with clubs on Wednesday, the idea is to increase the guest-player stint from 14 matches to a full season.

It would essentially allow franchises to sign a third marquee, and with financial help from FFA’s seven-figure marquee war chest.

However the player would need FFA’s seal of approval on a number of metrics, the most important being that he carries enough commercial star power to boost attendances and ratings across the entire Australian market, just as Alessandro Del Piero did at Sydney FC.

It’s understood clubs were receptive to the yet-to-be-finalised proposal, which would give them more recruitment flexibility.

A prime candidate would be Cahill, who currently leads the list of sought-after talent and who Melbourne City is doing their utmost to lure home from China.

Helping their cause is last week’s peace talks between the 36-year-old Socceroos striker and FFA chief executive David Gallop, that appear to have put February’s war of words to bed.

It is believed Australia’s all-time top-scorer is genuinely undecided on his next move once his contract with Hangzhou Greentown expires next month.

“There’s obviously one player that’s been talked about a lot – he and I cleared the air last week,” Gallop said on Thursday.

“He said some stuff we weren’t happy with and we probably said some stuff he wasn’t happy with, but that’s all cleared up now.

“The pathway is there, but it’s going to need club investment and a meeting of the minds over that.”

Samuel Eto’o was another potential among a number of high-profile targets, and the former Barcelona and Chelsea striker was shopped around to clubs including Sydney FC and Western Sydney.

But the 35-year-old is under contract to Turkish side Antalyaspor, and it’s understood the transfer fee has been deemed too steep.

Perth have also ended their pursuit of Michael Carrick amid reports the long-time Manchester United midfielder has been offered a contract extension to stay on at Old Trafford under new manager Jose Mourinho.

The opportunity had arisen due to Carrick’s close relationship with former West Ham teammate and Glory captain Richard Garcia, who was best man at his wedding.

The next couple of months will be critical recruitment-wise, with the current broadcast deal expiring in 2017 and FFA’s marketing sway hinging largely on next season’s success.

“I can’t give guarantees (on marquees), but we’re doing as much as we can,” Gallop said.

“We’ve made a seven-figure commitment, we’ve had discussions with the clubs as recently as yesterday.

“We all see that bringing big names into the competition is going to turn the dial for us.”

© 2016 The World Game SBS | This article first appeared on the SBS website on 9 June 2016.

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