Indeed, they were not the firsts from Down Under to take the flight north but it was there success in ISL coupled with the economic impact of Covid-19 that brought about the A-League exodus.
It’s no secret that post the global lockdown, money has been tight in Australia’s top division with almost a 60% reduction in the broadcasting deal with Fox Sports and reduced salary caps for clubs.
Moreover, while the ISL does have a salary cap, it doesn’t have a minimum wage floor like its Australian counterpart. This means that clubs in India can keep their expenses low on local talent and spend top dollar for foreign recruits. However, money is not the only reason why more and more players from the A-League are looking at ISL as the next step in their career.
The language, stability of contracts, growth of the league, as well as the precedent that Krishna and Williams have set with their performances here have definitely aided the process. The clamour for Australian and other Asian players is even more heightened, and with ISL clubs looking to fill the mandatory AFC quota within the squad, it is a win-win for both parties. Be as that may, let’s take a look at the names that have swapped the A-League for the ISL this season and analyse where they fit in their respective sides.
The Tuskers have brought in two players from Down Under in the form of English striker Gary Hooper and, as per reports, Jordan Murray. Formerly of Norwich City, 32-year-old Hooper played for Wellington Phoenix last season, scoring 8 goals and assisting 5 in 21 appearances.
#SuperHooper his goals are gonna find you
He's our number 9
He is going to shine
Blasting shots across the line 🎶🎶@HOOP588 is officially a Blaster! 🤩#YennumYellow #SuperHooper #SwagathamHooper pic.twitter.com/Uyb2MYoocW
— K e r a l a B l a s t e r s F C (@KeralaBlasters) October 5, 2020
He also has the impressive record of scoring 19 or more goals for five consecutive seasons between 2008 and 2013, with several more successful seasons after that in the lower divisions of England. With Bartholomew Ogbeche’s departure, Hooper has been signed on to mirror the Nigerian’s goal scoring record last season and will be under pressure to perform, no less from the Blasters’ demanding fans themselves.
The clubs’ AFC recruit, Jordan Murray has been released from his contract by his club Central Coast Mariners for an undisclosed fee so that he can complete a deal to move to the ISL. The 25-year-old Aussie forward Murray has scored seven times in 41 appearances in A-League for the Mariners since joining them in 2018. Last term, he scored four goals in 18 appearances (as his club finished at the bottom of the table.
The Gaurs have moved to bring in James Donachie from Newcastle Jets for the season. The Australian fulfils the club’s AFC quota and is a three-time A-League champion with Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory. The 27-year-old defender made 25 appearances last season and comes in as someone with huge ability and experience at the top level.
Mumbai City FC
City Group backed Mumbai City FC have swooped in to sign English striker Adam Le Fondre from Sydney FC on a season-long loan deal. The explosive forward was the second highest scorer in the A-League in the last two seasons, leading Sydney to the Championship last term.
The highly-rated 33-year-old has formerly played in England for the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Cardiff City and Wolverhampton Wanderers amongst others and brings proven pedigree to the attack alongside Bartholomew Ogbeche.
SC East Bengal
Kolkata top-dogs SC East Bengal have brought in defender Scott Neville and striker Aaron-Amadi Halloway from Brisbane Roar as well as midfielder Matti Steinmann from Wellington Phoenix. 31-year-old Neville was a regular for Robbie Fowler in Brisbane and guided the team through to the playoffs with a fourth-placed finish. The same cannot be said about Halloway though, with the Welsh striker having a stop-start season last term.
However, Fowler seems to prefer him and has persuaded him to come to the ISL and lead the red and golds’ attacking line. He would be looking forward to dovetail with Congolese striker Jacques Maghoma as well as Indian star Jeje Lalpekhlua in the search for goals in East Bengal’s debut ISL season.
Former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor is going to line up for Odisha FC this season, having joined from Wellington Phoenix. Alongside him will be former Perth Glory defender Jacob Tratt, making them one of the most dependable centre-back pairings in the league.
Taylor led the Wellington Phoenix to a third-placed finish last season and has close to 50 appearances for the club in the last two years. Tratt, 26, won the A-League in 2018-19 and brings unquestionable quality into the defence with his nimble-footedness and ability to play multiple positions.
Tratt’s teammate at Perth Glory, Joel Chianese has joined Hyderabad FC on a one-year-deal. The 30-year-old who has previous experience of playing in the AFC Champions League with Sydney FC besides Perth Glory, led his team to a semi-final finish last season and has 25 goals in his seven seasons in Australia.
NorthEast United FC
Former Wellington Phoenix defender Dylan Fox has joined the Highlanders for the season. The Northern Irishman played for the Central Coast Mariners last season making 11 appearances along the way. He has played in various divisions in Australia and New Zealand for over seven years and was the runners up for the Player of the Year for the 2017-18 season while at Phoenix.
The Red Miners secured the signature of 28-year-old Aussie winger Nicholas Fitzgerald on deadline day. With close to 200 appearances in the A-League for clubs like Brisbane Roar, Central Coast mariners, Melbourne City FC and Western Sydney Wanderers, the attacker brings a lot of experience to the Jamshedpur side. A former U-20 and U-23 international for his country, Fitzgerald is a dynamic attacker renowned for his pace and ability to take on defenders.
ATK Mohun Bagan FC
Kolkata giants ATK Mohun Bagan have signed Australian midfielder Brad Inman from Brisbane Roar on a one-year deal to fulfil their AFC player requirement for the season. The versatile 28-year-old can play anywhere in midfield and possesses the pace and trickery to trouble any defence. He scored 4 goals and made 5 assists in 25 appearances for Brisbane last season and will further bolster a star-studded Mariners’ midfield.