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Victory, FFA await Essien in A-League

AAP logoAAP 21/09/2016 Ben McKay

The A-League signings of Tim Cahill and, potentially, Michael Essien have cost Football Federation Australia almost a million dollars but chief David Gallop is delighted to spend the cash.

There's growing optimism at head office that season 12 of the A-League, which kicks off on October 7, will be a box office success.

The arrival of Cahill, who gathers attention like no other A-League player, at Melbourne City is the primary reason.

His crossover appeal delights league chiefs, as shown by his recent engagements with the fashion world or AFL club the Western Bulldogs.

A further marketing spend - which was non-existent last year - will follow from FFA next month after the AFL and NRL grand finals.

It will ask half-committed fans to find a team, pitching squarely at young families to fill seats at A-League matches.

Gallop is also delighted at the growing list of high-profile Australian names that have signed up for the season ahead: Brett Holman, James Troisi, Rhys Williams and Bernie Ibini among them.

He'd delight in Essien confirming his guest-player move to Melbourne Victory.

"We've come to an arrangement with Victory - if they come to an arrangement with him - that we're comfortable with," Gallop said.

It's understood Essien is overseas considering the deal.

If he agrees, Victory will put him through his paces in Melbourne before signing him to ensure his fitness for the A-League campaign.

Gallop said Essien brought star power.

"A player like Essien can add to the halo around Tim because it's another big global player that football fans will be excited about," he said.

"When you add that to the players that are coming back from overseas, then it starts to build the thesis that Ange (Postecoglou) has been espousing loudly lately.

"He watches a lot of football and he sees a lot of football that is not as good as the A-League."

Should Essien sign, the $1 million pot of guest-player funding will be almost dry.

But should Cahill and Essien's impact be felt as widely as FFA believes - including on important broadcast rights negotiations - the league could grow the pot next year.

"(An increase would be) hard for season 12 but we're certainly going to look at it again for season 13," he said.

"There'll be a small amount (left over) but we're open to discussions with other clubs.

"It's obviously pleasing that we allocated an amount of money and we're getting to use it."

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