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Blockbuster A-League marquees no longer a focus, says FFA

1:21 PM MYT 30/09/2019
Del Piero Sydney
If you enjoyed seeing big names playing football Down Under, don't expect more to be signed up any time soon...

A-League clubs are moving their focus away from signing superstar players and instead looking to bring through young Australian players, according to FFA head of leagues Greg O'Rourke.

The shift comes ahead of the new season, which begins on October 12, with a notable lack of big-name signings like Melbourne Victory's capture of Keisuke Honda prior to last campaign.

In the past, the A-League has seen the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Dwight Yorke and Shinji Ono star in the competition, but O'Rourke sees clubs prioritising youth development and looking to make smart foreign signings.

"It's a different strategy from the clubs to actually move away from paying a reasonable, substantial amount of money to one player but actually to have a support of new heroes and younger players and homegrown heroes inside all the teams," O'Rourke told AAP.

"We're going to have a focus on trying to improve, we'll call them young, but effectively if you had to categorise them it'd be under-23s.

"We're changing some rules and some policies inside the regulations to actually incentivise clubs to have more game-time for under-23s, to have more under-23s available for match day on the park and on the bench and a few other things we're working on in the background, which haven't turned into policy views yet."

Several foreign signings have made a name for themselves in Australia after playing in the A-League, including the likes of Besart Berisha, Thomas Broich, Diego Castro and Milos Ninkovic.

This season, the biggest captures so far are Italian forward Alessandro Diamanti (Western United), German striker Alexander Meier (Wanderers) and Irish playmaker Wes Hoolahan (Newcastle Jets) - with the trio all aged 36 or older.

With A-League operations transitioning away from the FFA, O'Rourke explained it was important for the clubs to show that they can effectively run and improve the competition. 

"The last two-and-a-half years prior to this the owners weren't actually communicating with me as the head of the leagues," O'Rourke said.

"I was working really well with the CEO group but the owners were sort of, they were not part of the communication.

"So what's happening now is much, much better.

"It's important that now the request is going to be be met, that the clubs are able to show that the strategy they have in place will be a more successful one for the game than the position where we come from."