Defender James Donachie has lifted the lid on his departure from the A-League and why he has joined the exodus to India.
Donachie has left Melbourne Victory and signed a three-year deal with the Newcastle Jets, beginning next season, but has been loaned to FC Goa for the new Indian Super League campaign that runs from November to March.
The Jets will receive a loan fee for the centre-back.
Donachie has admitted the bitter stoush between A-League clubs and the PFA over the competition’s new collective bargaining agreement, as well as COVID-19's impact on the A-League and the uncertainty surrounding the new season, has been a factor in his exit.
“I got to the point where I was quite frustrated with it all,” Donachie told The World Game.
“I think the situation with the players, and still now, I don’t think there’s any transparency from the start of what the situation would be.
“I think it was more of a situation of trying to keep players in the A-League and that, in terms of them taking a salary cut or on negotiable terms, like our contracts weren’t set in stone, which they are.
“It was quite frustrating and I think the players and the clubs are getting through it by the sounds of it now, but as a player, everyone in the world is going through a tough time but it was definitely frustrating when you have a contract… a contract really means nothing at the moment.
“It’s not a great situation but slowly it’s getting closer to getting resolved.”
Donachie revealed that FC Goa had been after his signature for some time.
“They contacted me, I had done my deal with Newcastle before corona, luckily enough when things were the norm,” the 27-year-old admitted.
“They contacted me and I said I’m not really ready to go to India yet.
"Then we went into the hub, we lost three months there and they said to the boys in the A-League, 'do it tough and things will be back to normal next season'.
“So all the boys got through that, and then coming back we kind of just got called in for more of the season and it wasn’t back to normal.
"I said to my agent, we need to sit down with Lawrie and Carl and have a discussion and look at what was on the table.
“And that (India) was what’s on the table. So we looked into it and there were a lot more players going there, a lot of A-League players and a few more overseas players going there in similar situations, so it looked intriguing and the more I looked into it, the more I was closer to going.
“Obviously it’s not perceived as being a high level in India for a reason, but I’ve played a season in Korea as well and that was really good football.
“But the thing with going there is that you’re still a foreigner and foreigners have to produce no matter what level because you’re getting paid well and they expect that. I’m looking forward to it.”
Donachie debuted in the A-League with Brisbane Roar in 2012 and re-joined Melbourne Victory, initially on loan from Korean outfit Jeonnam Dragons, in 2019.
This season, the former Young Socceroo and Olyroo made 29 appearances for Victory.
“I’m 27 now, unfortunately we finished pretty poorly on the table,” he said.
“I loved being at Victory for the years I’ve been there, it’s just unfortunate. Personally, it’s probably been one of the most consistent years I’ve had and I wanted to kick on from there.
“But it got a bit sad towards the end and we were in a tough place as a club and the league was in a tough place. I’m just looking forward to a change and a challenge.”
The Indian Super League kicks off in two months and will have at least five Australians plying their trade on the sub-continent.
A number of A-League players have departed to the cashed-up competition in recent weeks, including Wellington Phoenix striker Gary Hooper to Kerala Blasters, Brisbane Roar attacking midfielder Brad Inman to ATK Mohun Bagan, Perth Glory’s Jacob Tratt to Odisha FC and Joel Chianese to Hyderabad FC.
“I think there might be some more on the way as well,” Donachie admitted.
“It’s going to be pretty funny playing all the other Aussies. It will be funny seeing some of the boys every week going through the same experiences.
“FC Goa are quite a new club and (it's) a pretty new league. They have a Spanish coach and our other foreigners are Spanish. It looks exciting.
“There’s a hub in Goa, so the whole season will be played out in Goa. So every team gets put in a hotel in Goa and every team plays behind closed doors in all the stadiums there.
"So it’s almost like a mini-World Cup, a mini-tournament there.
“It’s a shame that there’s no fans because they do get a lot of fans there, they love it there. But it sounds good.
"The season’s over five months, you smash out some games and all the clubs are in the same city.”