The A-League marquee player concept is tired and flawed and does not put bums on seats, two senior club officials said.
It is results that drive attendances not the big names, they said.
Melbourne Heart chief executive Scott Munn and Adelaide United football director Michael Petrillo said A-League clubs would do well to concentrate on getting consistent results rather than splash out the cash on ageing foreign stars who may not even deliver.
Heart and United do not have a marquee player and both clubs said they do not feel underprivileged or disadvantaged.
”Results have the greatest effect on attendance and membership,” Munn said after the news that Italy's 2006 World Cup winning defender Fabio Grosso is keen to finish his career in Australia.
”We have seen marquee players come and go over the last few years but if the results aren't forthcoming there won't be a rise in bums on seats.
”If you are having success fans would want to be involved and this happens in any sport.
”Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners are a perfect example of this.
”They do not have big marquee names yet the last two years they were able to attract good support.
”On the other hand Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC had some good crowds in the early part of the season after signing Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton but their overall numbers for the year were not that good (because they were not successful).
”Even when Robbie Fowler went to Perth Glory the crowds were fantastic for the first few games but when the team stopped winning the crowds dwindled significantly.
”Everybody would agree that Dwight Yorke was an incredible success in the first year with Sydney.
”But Sydney were also successful on the field. Hence the question: Would Yorke have been such a success if he was playing with a losing team?
”It's results that draws the crowds and I believe that wholeheartedly.”
Petrillo, whose Adelaide club is still involved in the AFC Champions League after a disappointing A-League campaign, shares Munn's sentiments.
”First of all it's not called 'marquee player' anymore now, it's 'designated player',” said Petrillo, who is expecting a crowd of more than 10,000 at Hindmarsh Stadium for the ACL round-of-16 clash with Nagoya Grampus on Tuesday.
”Really, no one was signing genuine marquee players after Yorke and Fowler.
”Except for Kewell no player was signed with the capacity to draw huge crowds.
”Mainly because no A-League club can afford to bring a top marquee player.
”They can only afford players who are at the end of their career and after a few games he probably would not attract too many fans, either.
”And if a star player does not make a significant difference to your crowds, why bring him in the first place?
”You might as well go with a promising Australian player.
”The overwhelming factor in terms of bringing people to the games is results.
”A team doing well will always attract more people than a team with a star player that sits at the bottom of the table, there is no doubt about that.”
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, defender Pedj Bojic and midfielder Oliver Bozanic look to have played their last games for Central Coast Mariners as the A-League champion faces a raft of departures.