An almost ever-present since the inception of the A-League 12 years ago, Liam Reddy reflects on contract instability in the A-League and the impact regularly having to change clubs has had on him and his family.

When the first ball was kicked in the 2016/17 season the clock was ticking for many A-League players eager to secure their future, with 53% of players faced with the prospect of being a free agent at the end of the season. It is not a new phenomenon. This has been the norm for seasons past, with the A-League amongst the most volatile leagues in the world in relation to player employment.

Few players have faced this reality as commonly as Liam Reddy. His 200 plus A-League games has taken him to seven A-League clubs along the way. Having finished his first season with Perth Glory, Reddy concedes the short term nature of contracting in the A-League can work both ways for players, but admits that the constant upheaval has had a big impact on him and his family.

“My kids were born in Brisbane, then we moved to Sydney, then to the Central Coast and then I joined Western Sydney,” says Reddy. “The kids started school in Sydney and that was where we would have wanted them to stay. Due to salary cap the Wanderers could only afford to pay me a certain amount and I received a better offer at Perth.”

For Reddy the driving force for this is the salary cap. “Clubs can only offer you what they have in the cap not what you are worth and then you have to move again to get your market value.”

When teams have found stability and held on to a core of players the shot stopper said their results have shown the benefits.

“When you look back at the most successful club in the A-League that was Brisbane over a period of  four or five years and they had a core group of players that signed four and five year deals and if you look at the A-League now they make the top four consistently and the ACL almost every year.

“That has to have helped them to do that. A lot of clubs that have big turnovers have an up year and then the year after they have a rebuilding stage and struggle then when these guys come into their second year they go well again and they lose them all at the end and start again. For me when you look at Brisbane Roar that is a good example of what you should do.”

Trying to make a home in another new city has presented a challenge for Reddy and his young family. “The hardest thing when you move to a new city is you don’t know anyone. Perth is great and we do a lot with the partners and the Central Coast was the same to help your whole family be part of something.”

With two of his three children settled into school in Sydney prior to his move to Perth, Reddy said the plan was to go to Western Australia without the family. Weeks into pre-season it was not something he or the family wanted to persist with.

“When I initially signed with Perth I was just going to come over by myself as the kids didn’t want to come. We tried that for pre-season but then the kids decided they actually wanted to come over because they were missing me.

“In terms of a support network it is hard because when we lived in Brisbane we only had my uncle and aunties and they were a lot older and that is why we moved back to Sydney, but being in Perth now it is hard not having the support network to have a babysitter. We are lucky here that the local boys know people that can help us out.”

For Reddy the challenge of creating more stability for players is one that must be tackled if the competition is to continue on an upward trajectory.

“It has come a long way but I think we still have a long way to go and this can help us to keep the best players in the A-League and give fans the chance to build long term bonds with players. This would be good for the A-League as a whole.”