Sydney may have just provided the A-League with a life-saving shot in the arm after they secured the signature of Italy legends Alessandro Del Piero.
The 37-year-old was a free agent after leaving Juventus in the summer and Sydney officials have worked hard to bring this sensational deal to fruition.
Premier League duo Southampton and Liverpool were linked with a late swoop, but it appears their interest had come too late to persuade Del Piero to move to England.
The deal is reportedly worth $2million, which would make him one of the best paid stars in Australian sport and hopefully fire them to the title and into the AFC champions league.
“This signing is a major coup for Sydney FC and marks a historic day for football in this country,” said Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow. “This is for all Australian football fans”.
“Alessandro Del Piero is a global icon of the game and we are honoured he has chosen Sydney FC, ahead of many other options, as the club where he will begin the next chapter of his illustrious football career.”
The impact for Sydney is obvious; he will add guile skill and invention to their forward line and punters who like betting on soccer will no doubt back him to break all sorts of scoring and assist records. But his arrival is a great boost for the league as a whole.
Since its inception in 2005, the A-league has seen attendances steadily decline and a number of clubs struggle financially, as the warm glow of Australia’s 2006 World Cup campaign slowly fades.
It was never going to compete with Europe when it comes to attracting top stars but players like Del Piero put bums on seats, inspiring a new generation of both fans and players.
Dwight Yorke had a huge impact when he signed for Sydney ahead of that inaugural season, helping them to the league title.
Del Piero could well lead the Sky Blues to similar success, though it is hoped his influence will spread far wider than New South Wales.