There’s no way he was worth it as a league investment as evidenced by lack of impact on attendances home or away, TV ratings etc. That’s what the pool fund is there for, not merely to get clubs a player who’ll do well for them. I’m not disputing Honda’s quality or impact when fit, but that’s Melbourne’s business, and so they should pay for it like everyone else is paying for their marquees.
The pool money is there to grow the league. Per RedKat, Melbourne used him poorly. That may be the case, but Honda just doesn’t bring in the Euro fanbois, and hasn’t brought out a whole lot of Japanese to his matches because they’re not a particularly large community in Australia, and they are not football mad like other nationalities are.