The A-League’s lack of a transfer system has damaged its clubs and puts too much power in the hands of the players.

Unlike most leagues across the world, players cannot transfer between clubs. For a purely hypothetical example – Melbourne Victory can’t pay the Wellington Phoenix $800k to take Liberato Cacace off their hands, like you could in the English Premier League.

But, what this does mean is that if Cacace does want to go to the Victory, all he has to do is either wait until we’re in a transfer window, and then “mutually terminate” his contract, before hopping on the first flight to Melbourne. Alternatively, he can just wait, until his contract is up at Wellington, not re-sign, and again hop on the next flight to Melbourne.

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In both cases, the club – for this example the Phoenix – the team that developed Cacace, and made him one of the stars of the team and of the league, gets zip in return. Nothing. Nada. Zero.

In any other league anywhere in the world, the Phoenix would be enjoying the hefty fee they got for Cacace.

And that’s what sucks about the current system. With a transfer fee, the money from the fee can be reinvested in getting a top quality player to replace the one you lost. It is at least partially a win-win system.

And there’s plenty of real life examples of this that aren’t hypothetical.

Take Neil Kilkenny. In January last year, the then Melbourne City player was frustrated with a lack of playing time, so he and City had a “mutual termination” of Kilkenny’s contract.

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The now 33 year old joined Perth just two days later, and is now a crucial part of this Perth team that looks almost certain to win the premiership this year.

Another example is Kosta Barbarouses.

The Kiwi joined the Wellington Phoenix in 2016 on a three year contract, from the Victory. Yet, Barbarouses dumped the Phoenix just a year into his three year deal, and went on to re-sign with the Victory. Like Kilkenny, he is now a key player for this Victory side that looks like the best bet to upset Perth this season.

For such important and good players, neither the Phoenix or City got anything.

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But where the lack of a transfer system really bites is with youth.

If you aren’t Sydney or one of the Melbourne teams, then what’s the point in spending all that money on youth, only for Sydney or one of the Melbourne teams to take that player off you, with no compensation?

And if you are Sydney or one of the Melbourne teams, then what’s the point in investing in youth when you can just take the rest of the league’s best players for free?

The main argument against a transfer system is that it would mean that all the rich teams (Sydney and the two Melbourne sides) would take all the best players.

In response to that, I’d like to point out that we don’t have a transfer system, but the rich teams still take, and have all the best players, to a degree. And I don’t think players moving to a bigger, and richer club is something that’s going to change whether or not there’s a transfer system.

We all want this league to be fair, and not turn into what we see in France and Italy and other European leagues, where they are dominated by a singular team.

But, a transfer system isn’t going to make that fear a reality. It’ll encourage building up youth, and give teams compensation for developing or finding a gem of a player.

If the Australian game is to improve, we must set up a transfer system.

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The Football Sack's resident teen kiwi football nut. Loves everything football except defeats.