Melbourne City and the A-League have finally got their man, ending months of speculation
When Melbourne City coach John van ‘t Schip says it’s a beautiful partnership, he’s referring to the prospect of City’s prized recruit Tim Cahill joining forces with last season’s Golden Boot winner Bruno Fornaroli. But one could imagine the same sentiments expressed by FFA CEO David Gallop, who is hoping that Cahill and the A-League form a beautiful partnership, one that will reap rewards in terms of viewing audiences, attendances, sponsorship and TV rights.
Melbourne City and the A-League have finally got their man, ending months of speculation on Thursday, when the club announced that Cahill will join the club on a three-year deal after he successfully completed a medical in New York with Melbourne City’s sister club New York City FC.
The FFA took steps back in May to put in place and set in motion the pulleys and levers necessary to get Australia’s highest profile player to return home to the A-League. It was then that the FFA announced changes to the regulations governing the recruitment of marquee players by A-League clubs. It introduced a new category of Full-Season Guest Marquee, enabling A-League clubs to recruit an additional marquee player above the two marquee spots they are currently allowed outside the salary cap, providing the player in question meets stringent footballing and marketing criteria.
“When FFA announced the 2016-19 Strategic Plan in May, the marquee player issue was front and centre to rejuvenate the Hyundai A-League, and Tim Cahill was top of the wish-list,” said FFA CEO David Gallop.
“We’re really pleased that Melbourne City has taken the opportunity of the new regulations and the marquee fund to bring Tim home. Importantly, all clubs have recognised the importance of this initiative and some are actively pursuing other Full Season Guest Marquee options.
“Tim’s arrival is the biggest transfer move in the A-League’s history because no player is more popular or has had a bigger impact on the modern game in Australia than Tim Cahill.
“Today’s news fits perfectly with our new marketing campaign to appeal to young families and convert more football participants into A-League fans,” said Gallop.
“Tim Cahill’s debut season will give millions of fans a compelling reason to watch the A-League, get to a match, pick a team and become a member. I know this signing will be a huge boost to the profile and reach of the A-League, which is already a globally recognised domestic competition and among the best in Asia.”
Cahill’s contract is a three-year deal with a two-part structure. The first part secures his playing future for two years in the A-League, taking him up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The final year of his contract will see him become part of the City Football Group’s coaching team, and enable his transition into a post-playing career as a coach.
For Melbourne City fans, it means they can again look forward to watching their team top the goal-scoring charts, with the Socceroos’ all-time leading scorer Cahill joining forces with last season’s Golden Boot winner Bruno Fornaroli.
“We have very ambitious targets at Melbourne City,” Melbourne City coach John van ‘t Schip commented on the signing. “We want to win every time we step on the pitch, and in doing so we want to bring success for our fans who have been so loyal to us. Tim is an important part of realising that ambition. The depth and breadth of his experience will be very important to us on the field and also in the dressing room.
“He is without doubt one of the most loved sports stars in this country, and I think the fact that he is back in his home country is important to the fans, and is fantastic for us as a club. I see in Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli a beautiful footballing partnership – we are very focused on our pre-season preparations and the time that the team have together now is very important.”
Cahill gets to meet his new team-mates when he starts pre-season training with Melbourne City on Monday 15 August.