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Why Go Abroad? English Football Needs You!

Tuesday 24th January 2017
Footballers seem to be enjoying much longer careers than ever before these days but as a player's halcyon days get left behind and their bodies start to let them down; where exactly should they play their trade as a swansong?

Some head for America, others Australia and some cling on for grim death in England hoping their experience nets them a lucrative deal to retire on.  Here we'll look at where the players go and what it is that draws them:

Australia



The A-League is actually one of my guilty pleasures it has to be said. The pitches aren't the best and a lot of the players wouldn't make it in the Dog and Duck's starting XI but there's something about it that draws me in.

Ten teams compete in the league and there's a total of 27 matches in the season proper as each side plays each other three times before the grand finals that feature the top six teams in a bizarre playoff format to decide the overall champion. Great fun on FIFA but a flawed system otherwise.

There's not too much money in the A-League to be honest; the wage cap is 2.55 million AU dollars per year for the clubs so roughly 120,000 a year for the players; except marquee signings. Examples of these ‘marquee' signings have included Emile Heskey, Dwight Yorke, Alessandro Del Piero and Harry Kewell amongst others.

It's not the right fit for some to be honest as Didier Drogba famously agreed on a deal to play in the A-League and reneged at the last minute. You might see a few has-beens down under but it's not the right fit for an aging Premier League star in my book.

America



If we do something, the Americans must try and do it better. It's an unwritten rule for life and one you can't ignore but they haven't quite gotten football right just yet.

An ‘unbalanced' schedule sees the 22 teams play 34 matches across the course of the season – 24 games against their own conference sides and 10 against the others – weird. Equally bizarre, the MLS plays from Spring to Autumn meaning half their most well-known players are still playing internationals half way through the season…

The money can't be ignored, it's one hell of a payday if you're the same standard as David Beckham, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Frank Lampard but the standard of play was once described as pub team quality by several pundits.

To qualify as a ‘Designated Player', you simply need to be any nationality other than American and, seemingly, be over 34 years old. It could be an option for the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic if he wants to score 50/60 goals in a season or Bastian Schweinsteiger if he needs to line his pockets a bit more but it's a money spinner, not a viable footballing competition.

China



Just no. Not a chance are all these players who head to China going to see out their contracts. The Chinese Super League has invested inordinate amounts of money into buying some players who are bored of playing in difficult leagues and want a huge pension pot to chip away at when they retire.

Do we not recall Anzhi? The Russian super finance force that bought up a load of players who weren't fit to lace the boots of the Premier League stars? Look what happened; if any player thinks China is a good career move for them then everything they say about footballers being stupid is right.

Staying Put



Here's a novel idea, why not reinvest in the league that made you such a rich footballer in the first place? Look at Gareth Barry, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and the like! They stayed in this country to fight for their places in the team no matter how old they are/were/will ever be.

I just don't understand why players would rather expand their already overflowing bank accounts by moving abroad when clubs further down the tiers of English football could really use their help and experience!

You don't need a huge wage packet when you play for a club that genuinely needs you. Imagine if John Terry signed for Aston Villa tomorrow; you'd all freak out! But a club like Villa needs Terry's experience and they simply cannot access it due to money!

Hang Australia, forget the MLS and sod China! The English Football League needs these experienced stars to stay put and slow down gracefully!
Kristian Webb
A Manchester United fan who actually knows where Manchester is; I'm the chief writer for AccumulatorTips, ForzaSwansea and a contributor to WhatCulture's video game section. I'm a professional proofreader, content author and SEO Expert but that doesn't mean there won't be the odd grammatical error!

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