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The A-League


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I know it gets a bad rap every year, but I've gotta say, I have seen some good signs of improvement in the design of the Australian league this year round, and the dynamic league rating starting to have a really positive effect. I've seen intelligent usage of the marquee player system to bring in greater talent, I've seen a larger number of talented foreign youngsters invited in for trials before being offered long, cheap contracts which have seen them excel for a season or two before earning a big money move to Europe, and I've seen academy players carefully blooded into the first team before becoming some of the strongest in the division.

I'll admit, it isn't perfect. Clubs are still offering marquee contracts to players even though their marquee slots are full, and you can't offer current marquee players a contract extension. Occasionally, a fortunate and undeserving youngster lacking in talent suddenly becomes one of the most highly-paid players in the league for no obvious reason, while an experienced and accomplished pro is left ignored and untouched. On-form players are rarely sold for higher than their value, hopeless managers are kept in their jobs far longer than is reasonable, and out-of-contract players sometimes refuse to entertain the idea of accepting a wage in tune with their ability and the salary cap, but there have been steps in the right direction.

The non-league sides now seem far less aggressive in their transfer strategies, which means that their players can now move to league teams for more reasonable sums of money, as is the case in real life. Previous FM editions seemed to have struggled with this, leading to promising youngsters stagnating at a stubborn club without a future.

I would also say that it appears as though fewer high-class players are being released on free transfers, and when they are, they are tending to pick up a similar contract at another side, which is something of a relief. Clubs also seem to be working harder to fill in the gaps - seeing the league unanimously decide that players like James Brown, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Danny Vukovic were not worth a contract was somewhat painful in previous versions, but now they are quickly being snapped up by another A-League side (if not instantly, then certainly not long after a non-leaguer has given them a dozen games to get back on form), and being replaced at their previous club by someone who isn't an unprepared 17 year old.

The DLR became evident after four reasonably successful Champions League campaigns for the A-League teams, when managers starting to splash the cash to bring back talents like Adrian Leijer and Nikita Rukavytsya to the A-League, while also showing a little more resolve in keeping hold of their players when European teams start taking a look. Now, rather than an average wage of £1.7m, with only two sides nudging over £2m/year, that has now shot up to £2.5m, with 3 sides going above £3.3m/year as they strengthen their squads in terms of ability and depth. There also seems a greater willingness to use all 5 foreign player slots, which has led to an inevitable rise in class in the division.

So, well done SI :applause: It's been a good year for the A-League. More of the same next year please :brock:

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  • 3 months later...

It is an improvement, for sure. I'm still seeing good good young players (4 star plus potential) clubless midway through the second season.

I'm playing with MV and have signed Ryan, Petratos, Portaloo, Rogic etc. If I hadn't signed them they'd still be clubless.

The Marquee bug appears at fault for this.

Sometimes, however, players like Mat Ryan get picked up by OS clubs.

Also, let's not mention the AFC's decision to take an automatic berth for the ACL away from the A-League... It's a poor call and leaves Glory counting the cost.

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