by Ray Gatt - The Australian
A leading player agent has lashed out at A-League clubs that sign players on loan deals for the Asian Champions League, claiming they are hurting their brand and the development of youth football.
Lou Sticca, a long-time servant of the game through various administrative and managerial roles, spoke out yesterday after Sydney FC signed North Queensland Fury striker David Williams and Wellington Phoenix defender Andrew Durante for its ACL campaign, which kicks off next month.
Desperate to add some depth in the wake of a disappointing season in the A-League, Sydney moved quickly to get the impressive Williams, while Durante was a last-minute signing after the Sky Blues failed to sign Phoenix and Socceroo defender Jade North.
It is not the first time clubs have looked to raid a rival in a bid to shore up their squads.
Melbourne Victory signed Central Coast striker Nik Mrdja and Adelaide United secured striker Sergio van Dijk from Brisbane Roar on loan deals for last year's ACL. Mrdja returned to the Mariners, but van Dijk eventually signed a full-time contract with the Reds.
Opinion is divided among Sydney FC fans as to the merits of the loan deals for Williams and Durante, while Sticca made it clear he was against the concept.
"I personally would prefer to see clubs use their existing rosters and youth teams to draw players from," Sticca said. "If season six of the competition has taught us anything, it is that (Brisbane coach) Ange Postecoglou and (Mariners coach) Graham Arnold have re-written the way Australian football will prosper and that is to give young players the chance to play.
"I don't see any value in clubs having a youth league if the young players are blocked by all these loan deals.
"I think it undermines the value of each club's brand by having players swapping clubs willy-nilly on loan deals."