SYDNEY FC CEO Tony Pignata said he advised Italy-bound young gun Terry Antonis that it was too early to head overseas.
Pignata said the 19-year-old’s transfer to mid-table Serie A side Parma has now been confirmed after it was first revealed by au.fourfourtwo.com last month.
But he believed the teenager, who enjoyed his best season yet with the harbour-siders, would have been better served with another year in the A-League.
Antonis recently attracted interest from Dutch club FC Utrecht but has signed a four-year deal with the Italian outfit, the former club of Socceroo greats Mark Bresciano and Vince Grella.
Pignata told 2MM community radio: “It’s great for Terry and the A-League as well to have someone like that go to a club like Parma.
“I think it’s too early, I’ll be honest, and I’ve told that to Terry and his Dad. I think Terry had a great finish to the season and we would have loved to see him play one more year.
“He’s got the Young Socceroos coming up, potentially the Socceroos with the South East Asian Cup as well, and a full season playing as a starting XI could do him good.
"But, anyway, we wish him all the best and hopefully things really work out for him.”
Pignata was speaking on the program Soccer Stoppage Time alongside John Tsatsimas, football general manager of crosstown rivals and newly-crowned Premiers, Western Sydney Wanderers, .
The former Wellington Phoenix boss, who was a key figure in luring Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero to Sydney, also defended the re-signing of skipper Terry McFlynn, spoke of the returning playmaker Nicky Carle and dismissed rumours that veteran Socceroo Brett Emerton was headed for the exit after a disappointing season.
The last remaining foundation player McFlynn suffered a horror start to the 2012/13 campaign and at one stage was openly booed by the club’s fans but turned his season around following the arrival of coach Frank Farina.
“I know what people were thinking of Terry – and I’ll be honest, prior to Frank coming Terry was probably gone,” Pignata said. “There’s no doubt, he probably wasn’t having the season he wanted.
“But since Frank’s come on board, Terry’s been an integral part of that midfield and the way he organises and structures and he won another year contract.
“Now, we felt that Terry probably deserved it. He’s got another year. And even off the pitch what he brings to the dressing room as well – I think, honestly, Terry probably deserved his extension.”
Pignata confirmed the club was close to wrapping up the return of Carle after a one-year loan deal to UAE outfit Baniyas.
Carle who still has one year remaining on his Sydney FC contract, would be like a “new recruit in the midfield”, Pignata said.
As for marquee Emerton, he added: “Brett’s there next year – he’s got one more year.
“In his own admission he knows he didn’t have a fantastic year up to the level of what Brett can play. But he knows next year he’s got to come back and from day one and show the fans as well as the club what he can do.
"And we’re hoping he can do that next year.”
Meanwhile Tsatsimas categorically ruled out any move to a bigger venue for the Sydney derby after a caller to the program said the 20,000 capacity Parramatta Stadium excluded too many fans.
Both CEOs said the Sky Blues were likely to get two of the three derbies next season meaning the much larger Allianz Stadium would be the main venue for the blockbuster event.
Pignata acknowledged that some Sky Blues fans missed out on the two derbies at the Wanderers’ home ground.
“It was difficult this year and I did speak to John about allocating more tickets for our members – which he flatly refused – and a lot of people did miss out which is disappointing,” he said.
But Tsatsimas said there were several matters to consider from a commercial and football perspective for the Premiers. He said keeping the home derby at Parramatta Stadium would also encourage memberships.
He added: “(You’ve) got to create an expectation among fans that if you want to get in there then get in early and become a fan for the full year, not just for the derby but also for your Perth Glory and your Wellington matches.”