LISTEN TO NEWLY APPOINTED pERTH gLORY ceo TONY PIGNATA ON FOOTBALL Q&A
Incoming Perth Glory CEO Tony Pignata says a promotion/relegation system “is something that needs to happen” for football in Australia to grow as the A-League continues its plans for expansion.
Speaking to David Davutovic on Football Q&A, Pignata stressed the importance of giving grassroots football clubs a challenge in the pursuit of developing further Australian footballing talent and raising the game’s profile nationally.
“We need to give these [NPL clubs] some opportunity to make the next grade,” he said. “Whether they make the next grade or not, that’s up to them.
“If these clubs can fund themselves, it is going to grow the game, it’s going to produce the players, and I think it’ll work.”
With the bids in for the FFA’s planned two-club expansion of the A-League, Pignata believes “expansion should have been done a few years ago.”
“It’s needed,” he said. “Look at the amount of investors who want to get into the game. They’re spending a lot of money doing these bids at the moment, I just hope that the ones that miss out can still be there and the FFA can still nurture them.”
Pignata also spoke of the importance international marquee singings have played in promoting the A-League. Alessandro del Piero, who he says became “to the A-League what Beckham became to the MLS”, was signed during his tenure as Sydney FC CEO.
As well as drawing massive crowds and sponsorships, increasing membership numbers and attracting overseas TV coverage, Pignata believes the singing of the Italian international was instrumental in attracting other quality players, including 2017 Johnny Warren Medal winner Milos Ninkovic.
“When we signed Milos Ninkovic, he said his favourite player was Alessandro,” he said. “So we gave him [del Piero’s] number 10 jersey and he seems to have done pretty well with that.”
However, with heightened competition for signings from the Chinese Super League and the MLS, Pignata believes “it’s difficult for any A-League club now to sign a player like del Piero.”
Pignata’s appointment at Perth Glory will see him work alongside new head coach Tony Popovic, his former rival at Western Sydney Wanderers. Despite their supposed on-field rivalry, Pignata said the pair have a “very good relationship” and looked forward to working closely alongside him.
“He’s hungry,” he said. “He’s a winner, very much in the mould of [former Sydney FC head coach] Graham Arnold.”
“I think Perth are lucky to have him.”
Football Q&A airs every Wednesday from 5pm (AEST) hosted by David Davutovic on FNR_Football Nation Radio.
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