The top 10 A-League flops

Gold Coast United's fans voted with their feet when the club's owner, Clive Palmer, talked about capping home crowd figures. (Getty)

In the countdown to the A-League's 10th anniversary season, The World Game is celebrating everything the game has had to offer over the past nine seasons of euphoric highs and comical lows. From the very best matches to the best goals, biggest blow-ups and even the signing of a non-existent player, our stable of A-League experts has it covered.

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It's now time for Tom Findlay to bring you the biggest flops of the past nine years - in no particular order.

PLAYING STRIPS

What better way to reach out to a generation of disgruntled National Soccer League fans than by slapping a one-style-fits-all jersey on the eight brand new clubs you expect them to throw their passion behind?

Well, we can think of a few and not least the uniforms, which for the first five years of the competition were pretty much identical, save for the colour scheme. Football Federation Australia missed a trick in handing kit manufacturer Reebok a five-year licence to bore.

Thankfully that deal expired and common sense kicked in as A-League teams took on individual identities.

ALEJANDRO SALAZAR

Long before the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Thomas Broich and David Villa, there was this bloke. Who, you may quite rightly ask? The son of legendary American marathon runner Alberto Salazar... Still struggling?

Salazar attracted major hype as one of Sydney FC's first foreign signings. A closer dig through his credentials revealed not much more than a solid stint in the University of Portland football team.

While you could count Salazar's first team appearances on one finger in that opening year, it was his baffling falling out with then Sky Blues coach Pierre Littbarski that signaled the death knell for his A-League career.

Salazar went back to the place where it all began – uni – and took up an accounting degree.

CORPORATE NICKNAMES

Australian sport's obsession with team nicknames plumbed new depths when the A-League launched. We can only surmise that other sports had exhausted the list of furry animals – intimidating or otherwise – by the time types at FFA reached into the right-wing political party slogans manual to produce: Victory, Fury, Glory, Roar, Heart and Phoenix.

But why stop there? With talk of expansion in 2018, these could be good options in keeping with the franchise buzzwords that have been used to classify some of the foundation clubs. Woof, Growl, Empathy, Desire, Choke.

MARIO JARDEL

At the Brazilian's first six professional clubs he scored 298 goals in 321 games at a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque 92 per cent conversion rate. Perhaps that's why Newcastle Jets owner Con Constantine flexed the wallet for him in 2007-2008.

The A-League club would have done well to look at Jardel's next seven clubs before taking the punt though – five goals from 36 games. Sure enough, Jardel arrived in Australia fat, unfit and apparently with onset Alzheimer's – he'd forgotten how to play.

Showing they were stubborn long before new coach Stubbins arrived, the Jets gave him 11 games to prove himself. He didn't.

However, in an interesting postscript, Jardel played for six more clubs after leaving Australia, the most recent of which was Saudi top flight team Al Taawon, where he banged in 18 goals from 17 matches in 2011.

CLIVE PALMER'S CROWD CAP

Shunning conventional wisdom in the quest to save money, flamboyant Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer decided to cap the Skilled Park crowd to 5000 in 2009 after his star-studded side failed to attract the masses.

Palmer argued the cap would allow him to avoid a levy on ticket sales exceeding 5000 and save money by only staffing one open stand at the ground.

FFA deemed there were better, more logical ways to engage the community than by restricting swathes of them from coming to matches. Sadly for the club and the region, Palmer never quite understood what they were.

EXPANSION

Unfortunately the A-League had to learn a couple of harsh lessons about expansion before getting it right with Western Sydney Wanderers.

Those lessons played out over three scandal-ridden years on the Gold Coast, and two hapless years in North Queensland - not even the appearance of 'God' in Townsville could save it. 

 

Not to mention the Lucas Neill-affiliated Sydney Rovers, which never really got off the ground, despite being granted a licence in 2009.

Both Queensland regions had burgeoning populations but seemingly left in the hands of the respective private investment groups, failed to ignite, or capture the imagination of their respective towns.

For Gold Coast, a fairly handy team on the pitch, the problems started with outspoken owner Clive Palmer and ended with then FFA chief executive Ben Buckley, who presided over the dissolving of the club in 2012. Gold Coast alumni can still be found spread out over the league.

North Queensland's financial predicament – the club was forecast to lose between $2–3 million a season – led to FFA revoking its licence a season earlier.

ADELAIDE TRIALS DEXTER ROSALES

A 2012 Adelaide United press release trumpeted the arrival of trialist Dexter Rosales, whose CV listed such European luminaries as Valencia and Ajax. Despite the impressive pedigree, conflicting info about Rosales's age, name and supposed former clubs led to the startling revelation that the player doesn't actually exist.

The Reds hastily issued a statement saying they'd been fooled by an elaborate ruse. Despite the comical gaffe, there's no doubt Rosales still had a bigger impact on the league than some other high-profile imports.

PERTH GLORY

And the award for most ironic nickname goes to Perth Glory, the NSL powerhouse that entered the A-League – one of only three NSL clubs to survive – on the back of three straight grand finals and two championships, an adoring and sizeable home crowd and a stack of expectation.

Since then, the closest Perth has actually come to glory was as runner-up to Brisbane Roar in the 2011-2012 decider. Other than that brief moment - in which the third-placed team managed to keep the bus parked long enough to make the final game of the season – it's been one disaster after another.

From Brian Deane, to the dressing room coup last season, to the fact seven different men have managed the club in nine years of the A-League. If ever there was an argument for the abolishment of hollow corporate team names, 'Glory' is it.

SIX TEAM FINALS SERIES

Many football fans don't think the A-League should even have a finals series, especially not one that rewards mediocrity by having the top six teams, out of 10, eligible to play for the right to be called champion.

That's right. In season 2012-2013, Perth Glory – a team that lost three more games than it won and only won a third of its matches – was able to play off for the championship trophy just by avoiding the bottom four.

Something is seriously wrong when you can lose or draw two thirds of your matches and still be considered a contender for 'best team in the league'.

TOILET SEAT TROPHY

And that brings us, finally, to the little issue of what you actually get when you win the championship. The football world is littered with storied trophies, cups, plaques, shields and medals.

Then there's the A-League prize - a shiny metal ring that looks like something you stick your rear end in to eject fecal waste through.

Aptly nicknamed the 'toilet seat', the A-League trophy is actually an impressive piece of kit close up, but in the lexicon of famous football championship bling, it's a definite flop.

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Source: SBS