Former A-League defender Taylor Regan believes the competition will face another player exodus at the end of the current season with more players heading to Asia to chase bigger paydays.
The A-League salary cap was dropped from $3.2 million to $2.1 million for the 2020-2021 season, after a reduction in television broadcast revenue.
With no broadcast deal in place yet for the 2021-2021 campaign, a further drop in the value of the salary cap has been mooted.
Regan, who left Adelaide United in January 2019 to play in Malaysia, feels the salary cap will be reduced again and then even more players will depart the A-League for richer contracts off-shore.
At the end of the 2019-2020 season, there was a flood of players moving overseas into Asia including Dimi Petratos, Joal Chianese, Jacob Tratt, Gary Hooper, Steven Taylor, Brad Inman, James Donachie, Dylan Fox, Adam le Fondre, Scott Neville, Jordan Murray, Nick Fitzgerald and Alex Grant.
The highest-paid foreign players in the Indian Super League can earn more than AUS$1.3 million a season, according to reports, while in Thailand the average salaries for foreigners are between AUS$60,000 to $157,000 per year and in Malaysia it is between AUS$157,000 to $392,000 per year.
Lower tax rates and living costs also make playing in Asia appealing in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
“For me, the salary cap is going to drop, there’s no doubt it. The TV rights and things like that, it’s going to drop and that’s going to affect the league again and because we’re going to see an exodus again,” centre back Regan told The World Game.
“Especially those boys in the age bracket from about 24 to about 30. Where they would have taken a deal in Malaysia, Thailand or Indonesia for US$15,000 net a month, which is more than $20,000 in Australia and you’re saving it all, so it’s really good money.
“But they would have stayed in the A-League to try and chase that Chinese deal or that UAE deal.
“Now that the money is not in the A-League I think these players are going to jump at these deals.
“And then this is going to take away from the middle of that group. So all of a sudden clubs are going to be in a situation where they have very old players and kids.
“And I don’t know where they’re going to build their squads from. I like the idea of bringing NPL kids in, but again, if an NPL player is 25 why is he going to accept $60,000?
“He probably makes double that with a full-time job and playing NPL. So I think we’re at a crossroads with the A-League.
“But it is exciting with the kids [playing]. Graham Arnold has one of the toughest jobs in the world right now picking the Olympic squad because there are so many good kids.
“So I think it’s a scary time but at the same time it’s exciting.”