THE "calculated risk" of signing Dwight Yorke has more than paid off as his star status has attracted fans and boosted the profile of the A-League, Sydney FC chairman Walter Bugno said today.
Even with a third of the fledgling competition regular season still to play, the inaugural A-League can look over the numbers and count itself a success.
The competition has the popularity of glamour club Sydney FC in part to thank for such a healthy balance sheet.
Sydney, which plays its home games at Aussie Stadium, has the highest gate so far (25,208 against Melbourne Victory in round one) and the highest average attendance of 15,766 after seven home games through 15 rounds.
Sydney's glitzy reputation is mostly owed to the ex-Manchester United striker and recently-departed Japanese superstar Kazuyoshi "Kazu" Miura.
Yorke, 36 years old but with plenty of trick left in him, was a vital part of the Red Devils' 1999 treble-winning side and recently captained Trinidad and Tobago to the World Cup finals in Germany next year.
Bugno said these signings were "calculated risks" that Sydney took to "create something special".
"When we interviewed him (Yorke) and his management very early on in the piece, our focus wasn't on whether he could play football, we all knew that, our focus was on where was his heart'" Bugno told Sydney radio today.
"We thought there was something there, that sparkle in his eye that said, 'I want to help create something special'.
"I think he's done that and more in his first (season) at the club."
Bugno laughed off suggestions that Sydney might try to attract Diego Maradona, who is reportedly considering a comeback, or any other high-profile guest signings now that Kazu has finished his short stint with the club.
"It is very difficult to fit guest players in because they need to fit under the salary cap," Bugno said.
"With Kazu we were very fortunate in that he is such a huge personality in Japan that a Japanese firm was prepared to come forward and basically sponsor him to Sydney FC.
"I think that the Kazu experiment was a successful one but a one-off at least in the foreseeable future."
Bugno paid tribute to the role that Sydney FC's fans have played in their success.
"It's been a fabulous year for the code and Sydney FC has been riding high on that wave," Bugno said.
"We are proud of what we have contributed to the success of football in this country.
"What we have managed to do is create an entertainment event not just a game of football.
"A huge thanks for that goes to the fans in Bay 23, 'The Cove', who've added a special bit to the atmosphere by their singing and their chanting and their banners and people come to watch the team and enjoy the atmosphere.
"It's been sensational."