Viduka, be our guest!
NEW A-League club Gold Coast United is hosing down speculation that Mark Viduka is in line to join its list for its debut season.
Outspoken United owner Clive Palmer yesterday said claims that the soccer newcomer was considering a bid for Viduka were “made up”.
The Gold Coast had its first training session yesterday in the long countdown to its league debut against Queensland Roar in August.
But the main talk centred on reports that the brash newcomer was planning a bid to bring Socceroos star Viduka back to Australia as a guest player in their 2009-10 debut season.
Viduka is considered likely to be released at the end of the English Premier League season by his current club Newcastle.
As a “guest player”, Viduka would be exempt from the A-League salary cap - and money is no obstacle for billionaire mining magnate Palmer.
Palmer has talked up the Gold Coast's prospects, boldly predicting that his team will win the premiership in its first season - and do it undefeated.
However, Palmer would not bite when quizzed on the possibility of Viduka playing up to seven games for the Gold Coast in 2009-10.
“It's the first I have heard of it. It's made up,” he told reporters.
Palmer said the club was interested in “high profile” players for a guest stint.
But he would not reveal any names, saying only they were considering Australian and international players.
Thirteen of the Gold Coast's current 21-strong squad attended the historic training session.
They included reigning A-League Player of the Year and last season's top goal scorer Shane Smeltz as well as defender Michael Thwaite and exciting former Queensland Roar youngster Tahj Minniecon.
The likes of Dutch-based marquee signing Jason Culina and current Hartlepool striker Joel Porter will arrive once they have completed their overseas contracts.
Star striker Smeltz was unaware of the Viduka speculation but said it was a compliment for the club.