The PFA today proposed the introduction of an “Asian Marquee Player Rule”, which would entitle each A-League club to employ a second marquee player provided he is from an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) member nation, including Australia. As with the current marquee player rule, the player’s salary would be outside the salary cap.

PFA Chief Executive Brendan Schwab said the proposal is an intelligent and balanced response to the recent decision of the AFC to allow clubs in key Asian football nations – most notably China, Japan and South Korea – to recruit a fourth foreign player provided he is from an AFC member nation. The rise of the A-League coupled with the competitiveness of the Socceroos, Olyroos and Adelaide United in AFC competitions have made Australian players major targets for cashed up Asian clubs determined to take advantage of the AFC’s new policy.

Experienced A-League campaigners including Jade North, SasaOgnenovski, Joel Griffiths and Mark Milligan have since made lucrative moves to South Korean and Chinese clubs.

“The PFA remains committed to an A-League salary cap which is collectively bargained, responsive to the unique challenges of the international and Australian football markets and sees a fair percentage of the game’s revenues paid to the players,” Schwab said today. “The A-League salary cap is a critical device by which the game can maximize its national audience, revenues and, in turn, player payments. This approach has seen average allowed player payments excluding the marquee player increase from $85,000 to over $125,000 in the first 5 seasons of the A-League.”

“The introduction of the Asian marquee player rule would enhance the competitiveness of Australian clubs in the increasingly competitive Asian market, without compromising the salary cap’s overriding objectives of promoting competitive balance and the economic sustainability of the A-League and its clubs. It would also further engage Australian football in our region, by giving A-League clubs the option to invest in an elite Australian player or a champion from another Asian nation.”

“The impact of Kazuyoshi Miura at Sydney FC in 2005 shows the important contribution Asian players can make to the A-League. Australian marquee players Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory) and Craig Moore (Queensland Roar) have arguably been the A-League’s most influential players in the competition’s short history.”

Given salary cap rules are already in place for next season, the PFA has commenced researching the proposal with a view to obtaining the agreement of Football Federation Australia (FFA) for its introduction from 1 April 2010, in time for the 2010 Asian Champions League and 2010/2011 A-League season.

“The PFA’s research will address both the financial and career path aspects of the proposal, acknowledging that the AFC rule is still in its infancy and it is premature to assess the success of the moves by Australian players into Asia. The research will also address the Asian market to ascertain how intense the competition from Asia is likely to become.”

The PFA is aware that the A-League salary cap must contain certain flexibilities if it is to be effective in Australian football which is subject to uniquely competitive domestic and international markets.

“FFA and the PFA have acknowledged that strategic flexibilities should be introduced into the salary cap system without defeating its effectiveness. Important flexibilities include the current marquee player rule itself, the youth marquee as well as the exclusion of a variety of other payments to players for marketing and community work, when injured or to reward outstanding performances in the Asian Champions League or the A-League Finals Series,” Schwab concluded.