WHILE the rest of the football world seems caught up in the madness of the January transfer window, which closes in most European countries in the coming days, the A-League's mid-season window is a comparatively uneventful affair.
Hamstrung by the 23-man squad limit and the $2.4 million salary cap, it's not that Australian clubs don't want to dip into the window - it's just that, for the most part, they can't. Even those that do have a space or two available on the roster are overly anxious about how they use their final spot.
However, Sydney FC chief executive Dirk Melton believes that Football Federation Australia should consider granting clubs some breathing room in January by giving them an extra opportunity to boost their squads while retaining the equalising benefits of the salary cap.
In something of a transfer window ''power play'', Melton's proposal is that all clubs would be able to spend a certain amount during the window on top of the existing cap, allowing them an opportunity, as European clubs do, to re-shape their squad.
''I think we should look at a concept which would kick in when the January transfer window arrives, one that would allow clubs to access a separate component of the cap - say, $200,000 - which can only be utilised in that trading period,'' he said. ''You wouldn't have to use it, and certainly some clubs might not want to, but at least there would be a pool of money that allows you to add something to your list.
''Take us, for example. We're pretty tight on the cap right now, we've got a little bit of money to move for just one player, but that's it, and I think most clubs are in a similar position. To free up some additional funds would give clubs a real opportunity to inject something into their squad without compromising the integrity of the competition.''
Melton believes the excitement and publicity generated by the European transfer window is severely lacking in Australia because clubs have such little breathing space compared with their European counterparts.
''It would definitely create a real talking point among fans and the media but it would also have a tangible benefit for clubs who've been hit with injuries or those sides who haven't lived up to expectations,'' he said. ''We should always be considering ways to generate more media interest whilst also making the game more attractive and captivating to the public. There's no question we're missing out on a real point of interest because there's such little movement.''
With just the one space left in their senior squad, Sydney's activity in this transfer window has been predictably muted, but Melton hasn't ruled out making one or possibly two signings.
''We've allowed Juho Makela to start looking for a new club and that would free up another space but that hasn't stopped us from looking around to see what is out there,'' he said. ''With the global economic problems, a lot of clubs haven't been able to pay their players, so there's quite a few players out there looking for new clubs.
''We're keeping our options open and if the right player comes along and it's what we're after, we'll make the move.''
That player could easily have been Socceroo Nathan Burns, who ended up going to Incheon United in Korea. The former Parramatta Eagles junior was firmly on the Sky Blues' radar after being released by AEK Athens.
''We looked at him very closely and we definitely wanted him to come to Sydney … our door will always be open,'' Melton said.