Perth Glory have emerged as the new favourites in the race to sign Robbie Fowler after reports in the Australian press reveled that they have been in contact with the former Liverpool Legend.
The 35 year old striker who scored 128 goals in the English Premier League played last season at A-league side North Queensland Fury is up for grabs as the club ran into extreme financial difficulties only to be saved by Football Federation Australia. Every staff member at the club has had to have their contract renegotiated as a result of this, triggering a mini exodus from the club. The Fury couldn’t agree to match Fowler’s previous contract value of a reported $750,000 AUD (approx. £450,000) per year, opening the door for other clubs to acquire him.
At the beginning of the week it had been thought that Fowler was an obvious match for Sydney FC. The newly crowned A-League champions came close to signing him in 2007 after he left Liverpool after his second stint with the five time European Cup winners but he decided to join Cardiff City instead. Sydney FC’s former marquee player John Aloisi (ex Portsmouth and Coventry City) has joined expansion side Melbourne Heart for the 2010/11 season so there is space in the budget for a player of Robbie’s stature. However, the Sky Blues have confirmed that they are yet to speak with the player or his agent.
As reported in the Perth Sunday Times, Perth Glory owner Tony Sage was in London on Friday and used the opportunity to speak with Fowler. “I think we’ve got the best chance. We’re the first club to actually speak to him,” said Sage who was only able to speak with Robbie over the phone as Tony couldn’t fly to Liverpool due to the Volcanic ash from a volcano in Iceland that had grounded all British air travel. “He’s very interested, he’s just got to make a decision with his family and whether he’s going to come out to Australia to spend another year.” Perth would be able to afford Robbie’s salary due to the up turn in ticket sales the Liverpudlian creates at every ground he plays at in Australia. Glory captain Jacob Burns, who was a team mate with Fowler at Leeds United for two years is expected to get in contact to convince him that the ME Bank Stadium should be his new home.
On Friday Perth’s new assistant coach Ian Ferguson who was formerly the Englishman’s manager at North Queensland last season stated his hope for his new side to win the race for Robbie’s signature to The Western Australian newspaper. “I’ve spoken to Robbie over the last two or three weeks and we’ve had good conversations, I know Tony’s very interested and we’ll see where it takes us,” said Ferguson. “He’s a quality player and puts bums in seats,” as shown by Perth Glory’s highest attendance of last season coming on the visit of Fowler with the Fury. Ian also believes he would be the perfect fit to fill the needs of the Glory “Last season I thought they (Perth) played very well at times but were just lacking that firepower,” he said. “With (Michael) Baird coming in, hopefully we can try to get Robbie Fowler there, it would give us a good partnership up front.”
Last month Robbie Fowler won three awards at Fury’s inaugural medal night. He won the golden boot for his nine goals in twenty six appearances and was recognised by his team mates with the Players’ Player Award. He also picked up the major prize of the night, North Queensland Fury Player of the Year.
If Fowler does decide to make the move across the country to the west coast he would be joining Englishman Andy Todd who won Perth Glory’s most prestigious award at their end of season award, the MGP (most glorious player) award. The former Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Derby County player won three other awards at the event: the Volunteers’ player of the year, the Supporters’ player of the year and QBE players, player of the year. On receiving the awards Andy said “I’d just like to thank all my team mates and everyone connected to the club, all the lads have made me feel really welcome. I just wanted to come here and enjoy myself and to try and help the players reach bigger and better things.” He added “I’ll be back next season and hopefully we can go one or two steps better.” The defender was part of Perth Glory’s most successful A-League season in the club’s history as they reached the finals series (post season playoffs) for the first time, being knocked out on penalties in the first week of the finals (the quarter final in English terminology). Todd played 26 games for Glory in his first season abroad.