Free Agency - Working like intended or a complete Balls up


So you like what’s happened at Gold Coast/Brisbane where players selected with top picks serve their 2 years, decide they want to go home and nominate just one club they want to play for? When that happens, the club losing the player gets a diminishing return, and the process repeats itself. As Sunbury correctly points out, players effectively have no-trade clauses at the moment as they have the power to reject a trade if it doesn’t suit them. Allow the club to trade them to whoever offers the best compensation in terms of a trade package. I have no problem with Free Agency, because these players have earned the right to decide where their future lies because they have served enough years in the AFL. But I’m over these Mummy’s boys who are 19-20 years old dictating terms to clubs. The balance is out of whack.


Give them longer contracts and make them stick or pay penalties just like in most employment contracts.

Club are just weak. Workers have rights.


It’s always been nonsense that “free” agency only kicks in at a certain point.

By the AFL definition of free agency: which doesn’t say anything about the freedom of the player - only the compensation the original club gets.

If anything the clubs should get more compensation for younger players who want to leave. The current situation you get nothing if a 25yo walks, but something if a 26yo leaves. That makes no sense.

I wouldn’t hate if all players had to go into the draft, until they qualify as RFAs after 10 years.
And get rid of the PSD.


Exactly what I’m saying HM. Clubs need the ability to trade a player against their will. It should be up to the clubs to negotiate who they offer a NTC to. The way contracts are now, the players hold the club to ransom effectively making the club take understand to get the player where he wants to go.


Well Clubs can write better contracts, make them too good to refuse and not allow them to be broken.


That’s is NEVER going to fly with the AFLPA. And I’m frankly against it as well. Far as i know, the only employers that can send employees wherever in the nation they like without consultation or any possibility of resigning to go work for someone else in the same field are the military. Even the diplomatic corps and the cops get more of a say than this. I don’t think it’s a reasonable condition of employment to impose, especially for a body like the AFL which has effective monopoly power of employment for elite-level footballers. And trying to impose it is the exact sort of overreach that would result in the court challenge we were talking about earlier.

I honestly don’t know what the solution is, to be honest. I think the AFL would, in the long run, like a more NBA-like model of player movement where a one-club player is a weird rarity and everyone gets traded all the time. But they can’t do that because it relies on involuntary trading and (unlike the NBA) AFL salaries just aren’t high enough to compensate for the lifestyle impacts of that. The AFLPA will scream blue murder if any of the player power is rolled back, the strong clubs are doing just fine out of FA and FA-blackmail-driven trades, and nobody cares what the weak clubs think. If it wasn’t for GC and GWS being systematically pillaged every october when the AFL wants them to be polishing premiership cups, nobody would give a damn.


Clubs don’t write contracts. Every contract is an AFL stamdard player contract, with boxes for the contract duration, base salary, and game payments. There’s not a lot of wriggle room for the clubs there.


Clubs don’t write the contracts per se, it’s all from the AFL CBA. (As HM said…)


So the AFL should write better contracts. I find it hard to believe some just have no empathy with workers rights.


Agree with that. I don’t think the AFLPA will ever agree to releasing some of those player rights but that’s where it needs to get to to even it out a little IMO. An NBA, NHL style trading system where clubs can trade an asset for the best possible return is the only way the the weaker clubs can benefit, otherwise, they’re always going to be a nursery for the stronger clubs to raid from.

Giving GC top picks for losing high end talent means nothing when they get raided a few years later. Example being Prestia moves, GC draft Scrimshaw, Scrimshaw moves a few years later for essentially a nothing pick. GC lose a top 10 player essentially for nothing. It can’t continue in its current format. Free agency in itself isn’t the cause, but the spectre or threat thereof is causing more fluid movement for players but naturally they want to get to the stronger teams, not the bottom teams which is the main problem IMO. The talent isn’t anywhere near as spread as it should be.

I also think FA coming in at the time of heavily compromised expansion drafts was an error too. A diluted draft pool, players leaving bottom clubs for top clubs was always a recipe for disaster and in many respects defeated the purpose of the draft/salary cap equalisation measures.


It’s funny the public perception of AFL players contracts, “make em stick to the contract”.

I don’t see this much in real life. People break contracts to switch jobs all the time. A contract is normally there to protect the employee not so much the employer. The only thing I’ve ever seen is break clauses for education or relocation expenses. For example if a workplace pays for further education or relocation costs interstate or overseas they put a clause in that if you leave within 2 years you have to pay those costs back.


Yeah, but ‘better’ for who? The AFL is in this weird position where they love that the players have the whip hand over the clubs, because the clubs can unite to overthrow the commission and the players can’t, so anything that weakens the clubs and keeps them divided is A-OK with the AFL. So the AFL wants the trade/FA system to be imbalanced in favour of the players, with clubs focused on stabbing each other in the back. However, the big exception to this is GC/GWS, where the AFL wants that power imbalance to be reversed, and for those specific two clubs to be issued stab-proof kidney armour.

Squaring that circle is not an easy thing. And the new AFL CBA isn’t due for a while yet, and the standard contract is supremely unlikely to change before then.


Cannot accept that people break contracts all the time. My guys are on contracts and severe enforceable penalties apply if they try to break them.

None have yet tried, some have left but it has been a negotiated departure.

In terms of footy, Clubs still can have control but they are weak and always fold.


You would be an exception to the norm.

From reading about what you do, your business has a lot of IP, that would be one area where you need to contractually protect people leaving and your IP.

Vast majority of workplaces won’t have these clauses, it’s how they fundamentally run their business. Performance management basically entails making someone’s working life unpleasurable so that they leave whilst under contract. You don’t want onerous clauses in a contract to provent people leaving that are unwanted.

Edit: not saying that’s how I operate, just noting the state of the workforce as I’ve seen.


Bacchusfox is right here. Workers rights should never be messed with no matter what the circumstances are.

Yes, players have all the power, because they can’t easily be replaced. We should NOT look to other sports for examples (NBA, soccer, NFL, etc) because there are many many more places producing players which means there are hundreds, if not thousands, of options available to clubs to fill needs. It’s not comparable at all to footy.


Work is work. I have highly qualified people and they get well paid. I would never create an atmosphere to get someone to quit. I would buy out the contract.

If someone wants to break my contract then they pay me compensation.


Fair enough too. I remember a time when your word was your bond, it really meant something when you shook on an agreement - not so much today.


Didn’t these two clubs almost go broke doing exactly this in the early eighties?

Glenn Mclean

Collingwood came calling and he decided he wanted to go. Though he hadn’t signed a contract for the season despite playing as late as [Round 4 1984, Melbourne believed they still had a binding agreement with him. The Magpies offered him a three year deal which he signed and Melbourne issued a supreme court writ against Collingwood to block the move.

Supreme Court documents revealed that Melbourne had offered him a three year deal worth $32,000, $34,000 and $36,000 until the end of 1986 as well as $5000 in incentive payments. He played in Collingwood’s reserves side while waiting for the legal action to clear up the situation and countered with his own writ asking the court to clear him to Victoria Park.

Melbourne had demanded a fee of $180,000 to clear McLean, and when the Collingwood board would only stump up $120,000 Pies president Ranald Macdonald paid the difference out of his own pocket. Melbourne also got Tony Keenan as part of the exchange.

After the protracted wrangle was settled McLean played in two consecutive games late in the year, was dropped and never played VFL football again. He remained on Collingwood’s list through 1985, but with the club in financial difficulty and players voting to take a pay cut he was one of five sacked from the club in January 1986.

Can’t remember if he’s the same guy who left to be a pop star, or if that was someone else.


Silvio Foschini did the supreme court thing too.


SILVIO Foschini played 38 games for South Melbourne/Sydney before a Supreme Court ruling saw him cleared to St Kilda in 1983.

Foschini refused to move with South Melbourne to Sydney when the club relocated in 1982.

After being a fly-in player during the club’s first year in the Harbour City, Foschini wanted to switch to St Kilda to stay in Melbourne with his close-knit family.

Foschini went to court after his clearance to the Saints was refused and successfully claimed the VFL’s clearance rules was a restraint of trade.

After his victory, Foschini debuted for St Kilda in the Round 4 clash against Waverley on April 16, 1983, with fellow former Sydney teammate Paul Morwood, who also played without a clearance.

The Foschini case forced the league to rewrite its rules.


St Kilda lost points over that (not that they had much in the first place) didn’t they?