Siu Down Under? Why the A-League Men is right to dream about Ronaldo

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The hot gossip this week – could Ronaldo be moving to Australia? Those in charge of the A-League Men said they are ‘in dialogue’ with the former Manchester United superstar.

So watch me jump to conclusions and outline all the reasons why this would be incredible for Australian football.

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It was announced earlier this week that Cristiano Ronaldo, the decorated Portuguese footballer, severed his contract by mutual agreement with Manchester United.

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you would know this got messy. With he said, she said, explosive interviews, people feeling ‘betrayed,’ it was a lot.

So where does Australia fit into this?

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When the relationship between Ronaldo and his former club started to hit the rocks, the rumours began.

Ronaldo’s grandparents live in Western Australia. It seems so perfect. Family reunion. Perth Glory’s saving grace?

All of this was just talk on Twitter. No one actually thought it would happen. Until Australian Professional Leagues CEO Danny Townsend said in an interview with SportsFM 91.3. that the ALM had already reached out.

Now it is still a long-shot, and definitely unlikely. But we have already seen success from another Portuguese superstar, in the likes of Luis Nani when he joined Melbourne Victory. Why not have another one?

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Before we micro-analyse all the reasons why this will never ever happen. Let’s get hypothetical (and maybe delusional) and think of all the reasons why this would be so impactful to the A-League and Australian football.

Viewership

I would bet interest and viewership would increase if the A-League Men has a superstar like Ronaldo.

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Channel 10’s ratings are declining. Yes, they partly have themselves to blame for this by only broadcasting two free-to-air games a week, with the rest being shown behind the paywall of Paramount+.

But even stadium attendance is low. After the 2018/19 season, the average stadium attendance across all clubs in 140 games was around 11,000 people. After the 2021/22 season this was around 5,600 after 163 games.

With so many sports to contend with in Australia, the ALM is struggling. There is a consensus in the Australian football community that things need to change. Engagement needs to improve. So could Ronaldo be the answer?

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Better the standard

Scoring a marquee player like Ronaldo will inadvertently better the standard and perception of our league.

I believe this will have a knock-on effect in encouraging home-grown talent to stay in Australia. There are numerous cases of young talent leaving the A-League for international careers.

Recently 18-year-old Central Coast Mariner and Socceroo, Garang Kuol, signed to Newcastle United in the Premier League.

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While this is an incredible achievement, and career-changing moment, wouldn’t it be great if the A-League Men could retain these players for another year or two?

Massive international names like Ronaldo may elevate the league and ultimately make it a desirable place, or final destination, for our young talent.

It’s not going to happen overnight, but I truly believe it is a start.

No Daniel Sturridge 2.0

I know marquee players don’t always work out. Don’t remind me of the Daniel Sturridge saga of the 2021/2022 season.

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But I don’t think Ronaldo will be a Daniel Sturridge 2.0. I could honestly, hand on heart, say there has never, ever, been an international signing in the A-League Men to Ronaldo’s standard and presence.

He is arguably one of the greatest footballers of all-time. Landing him in the ALM even for only a season would be game changing.

Even if HE played two minutes in a game. The hype he would generate would be unmeasurable.

This would be so influential in getting viewership and engagement up.

Who wouldn’t want to see Ronaldo in person or on their screen? I mean come on!

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Logistically…would he even come? Highly unlikely. If he did, would any club have the money to splash on him, probably not. And would his ego fit inside an Australian stadium, definitely not.

So, it’s not looking optimistic. But, one can dream, and we do. We really do.

Statistics: Ultimate A-League

Feature Image: Atila TheHun

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Tylah Tully
Tylah Tully
Current journalism student in Perth. Fanatical sports fan. One of two writers covering the Perth Glory men and women’s teams for the 2022/23 season.

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