11TH Hour AFL Free Agency Decision Yet To Come

A completely new free agency system could see stars switch clubs with far more ease in 2012

Robert Whiteby Robert White

The AFL is yet to announce whether or not the will be any amendments to the league’s free agency rules with the season only just around the corner.

2012 free agency will be a big year with a number of A-list players coming out of contract and a change to the system could make it easier for players to change clubs.

Agents and the AFL’s Players Association have been seeking clarification for weeks over a rule that applies to star players.

Under the current system, implemented in 2010, a player with eight of more AFL seasons at one club, who is one of the 10 highest-paid players on the roster, and is out of contract for the first time can become a Free Agent, but clubs have the right to match offers which means that players rarely move from their original club.

In order to begins early contract negotiations with other clubs, agents want to know whether this rule means that players who meet this criteria can begin contract discussions during their eighth season or wait until their contract expires on October 31st.

Players Association chairman Ian Prendergast told The Age in January that changes to the free agency system will likely benefit middle-tier players rather than league stars.

Big-name players Brendon Goddard (St Kilda), Travis Cloke (Collingwood) and Brett Deledio (Richmond) are a few of the names that may be able to test the market in November.

Legendary coach Mick Malthouse appeared on an Adelaide radio station yesterday and warned listeners that an unrestricted free agency system would ruin the league, creating an uneven competition.

“Once free agency comes in, we are doomed to a two-tiered competition – make no mistake about it,” he said.

“I have coached in the VFL where there were four or five dominant clubs and anyone else who stuck their head up with a good player, he was gone within a year.”