Muscat to play on

Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat said there was never any doubt that he would play on in season 2009/10 after penning a three-year playing and coaching contract with the reigning champions.

Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat said there was never any doubt that he would play on in season 2009/10 after penning a three-year playing and coaching contract with the reigning champions.

The club announced on Tuesday that Muscat's playing contract would extend for another 12 months, while he would be given an additional two-year contract as an assistant coach.

The 35-year-old said that he was always keen to play on for another season, but the longer-term nature of the coaching arrangement was the reason the contract had taken so long to finalise.

"There were certainly not any doubts. The reality was the football side of the contract was negotiated months ago, but there was certainly a lot of things I wanted to speak to the football club about my future after football. These things took time. Certainly, there wasn't any doubt on my behalf," he said.

Victory football operations manager Gary Cole said that Muscat's experience and leadership were vital to the club's aspirations of becoming the first team to successfully defend the Hyundai A-League championship.

"It's a very talented squad and Kevin just strengthens it with the leadership qualities that he adds. Gives us every hope and belief in defending our Hyundai A-League title as we move into season five," Cole said.

Coach Ernie Merrick said the signature of Muscat long-term was a massive bonus for his plans for the future.

"His contract as a player is for at least another year, I'm hoping it might go on for another year after that. I think we've identified Kevin as a very good coach from early on. So we brought him into the coaching group for the last two or three years. I think he'll be a very, very good coach down the track," Merrick said.

"He's doing it the right way, he's currently completing his coaching badges and I think he's going to be a huge asset to the playing department."

Significantly, the three-year deal puts Muscat off limits to the proposed new Melbourne franchise, which is likely to enter the A-League in 2010-11, or any other club which wants to sign him when his playing career finishes.

Muscat admitted that there had been interest from other clubs, but that he wanted to remain committed to the club he has been with from its inception as he continues the transition from player to coach.

"The first conversation I had with Gary (Cole), Geoff Miles and Geoff Lord, is that I want to be around the football club for many years to come, how do we go about making that happen? The process took its time, only because it was an important decision for me," he said.

"Post-football I wanted to be somewhere where I can learn, do my apprenticeship, and this is the club, under Ernie (Merrick) that I wanted to do that."

The 2009-10 season will be a testimonial year for Muscat, with several events currently in planning to celebrate a decorated career.

The Victory has now re-signed 14 of the 16 players who played in last year's Grand Final win over Adelaide with Sebastian Ryall and Michael Theoklitos both leaving the club.

Cole said that there was only one place remaining on the squad's list for the upcoming season but that would be taken by a player from the local Victorian leagues.