Pierre Littbarski – coach of the A-League
premiers Sydney FC – is gone and nobody is surprised. Rumours have been
circulating since the end of the season that he and star import Dwight Yorke won’t
be on the team’s payroll next season.

The club is reportedly $5.8 million in debt after last season, meaning highly paid imports were always going to find it
hard to hold their spots.

According to reports, the new deal offered
to Littbarski involved a huge pay cut (at least $250,000 less than his $700,000 salary last season) and a one-year
contract: those are not the actions of a club desperate to hang on to someone.
They’re the actions of a club facing financial reality.

Which raises the question, have Littbarski
and Yorke served their purpose? Both brought great kudos to the club, great
skill to the playing field, and played their part in winning the championship.
But now that Sydney FC is up and running, has a decent supporter base, and
holds the champion’s crown, Sydney FC has to focus on running a football club
in a limited market like Australia
a little more realistically.

In other words, can you write off the
expense of Littbarski and Yorke as a shrewd but costly marketing exercise? Club CEO Tim Parker suggested
as much in saying: “We now have the form on the board
and Sydney is a very attractive place to come to so money
isn’t the only issue.”

Given the club has
switched into penny-pinching mode following Frank Lowy’s financial rescue job,
the other question Littbarski’s departure raises is, will this give the club
room to move in negotiations with Yorke?

Rumours have already begun circulating
about who will take over the coaching job. Central Coast Mariners
coach Lawrie McKinna has been linked to job, as has fellow A-League coach John
Kosmina. Former Socceroos coach Frank Farina is also believed to be in the
running.

Peter Fray

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