Australian Soccer Needs To Exit The Cahill Expressway

There is more than one god.

02/06/2016 7:55 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST

Can we talk about Tim Cahill? Or rather, the unceasing effort to turn him into some kind of messiah figure for Australian football?

It's not that he's not worthy of worship – he is absolutely a national treasure and his goals at crucial times for the Socceroos have weaved him into the fabric of Australian footballing folklore.

Is it wise, however, to cast him as the saviour of the local game?

The Tim Cahill to the A-League rumour mill started back up again this week, just the latest development in an unceasing campaign to get him back home to promote the league.

The thinking goes – quite rightly, that there is no bigger name in Australian football with cut-through to all levels of the sporting public than Tim Cahill.

As Australia needs to stop relying on him for goals on the pitch, the domestic game should have really evolved beyond Cahill to stop scoring goals off the pitch.

There is an increasing line of thought that the A-League has been completely priced out of the secondary transfer market by the US and China over the past year – so attracting household names to the country is all-but impossible without completely bankrupting the league.

So, the thinking goes, how about bringing in someone with instant brand recognition in the Australian market?

For a game crying out for marketable heroes, the capture of Cahill to play in front of packed houses would look great to a TV executive who may be currently weighing up making a bid for A-League rights.

On the pitch, Cahill keeps on scoring goals and no one striker has risen to take his place. Off the pitch, no one person has risen to take his marketing ability.

On the field, it can be read as a failure of coaches past and present to create a player able to take on the goal scoring mantle.

Off the pitch, the fact that Cahill is somehow being read as the saviour of the domestic game's image is a complete and utter failure of marketers past and present.

Should we now be at a point where the league doesn't need Cahill? Shouldn't the domestic game be at a point where Cahill's signature would be great – but not the ultimate wallpaper to cover up the code's cracks?

Again, this isn't to cast aspersions on Cahill – but rather on the lack of marketing of local players to this point. It is this lack of an alternate marketing plan which has created the messianic aura around Cahill.

The aura should be about his accomplishments in a long and storied career, not his ability to raise the profile of the A-League.

As it stands, if any negotiations are going on, Cahill is completely in the box-seat.

He's at a point in his career where he's trying to get the maximum amount of value out of his aging body for both himself and his family, and fair play to him for doing so.

He's also spoken in the past about his desire to leave behind a legacy (it was literally a title of his book) – and in the past criticised A-League bosses for failing to sell him a vision of what the local game could be and how he fit into it.

At the time, it seemed like a bit of a megalomaniacal statement – but could it be that he's a bit sad that he's being cast as the saviour as well?

No doubt it's an ego boost, but does the local league have a plan to raise the profile of the game in the Australian marketplace apart from going out and getting Tim Cahill.

What is its vision?

Football Federation Australia has committed to re-vamping its marketing for next season, but we've yet to see the thinking emerging from Holt Street.

It could very well be that it will emerge with a completely on-point strategy for marketing the new season and the game of football in general – but until we see that we're left with the rather sparse strategy of getting Tim Cahill into the league.

Or this guy.

Cahill has said he hasn't actually had any offers from A-League clubs to be fair, but the evident woes around the marketing of the game means that Cahill will continue to be cast as the saviour.

It's time we moved beyond it.

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