AFL softens stance on Sydney trade ban, Swans can approach players below current average wage
JAY CLARK HERALD SUN
THE AFL has lifted its controversial trade ban on the Sydney Swans but will limit the club from recruiting players earning more than the average player wage.
The Swans won the fight to participate in this year’s exchange period, but will only be allowed to sign players and free agents on approximately $340,000 or less.
Sydney chief executive Andrew Ireland said the club would prefer there was no salary limit but believed “the outcome would suit our needs in this year’s exchange period”.
“We would prefer if there would be no limitations in terms of coming back in (to the trade period), but the reality was we were looking for an outcome,” Ireland told the Herald Sun.
Sydney’s trade ban means it can’t make another lucrative, Lance Franklin-style offer to a player or free agent.
The AFL announced it had reached an agreement with the Swans following a formal request in December from the 2012 premiers to scrap the ban.
In a shock move last October, the AFL banned the Swans from accessing any free agents or players in the 2014 and 2015 trade periods, while the controversial Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) was phased out.
The COLA provided the Swans and Greater Western Sydney with an extra $1 million in their salary cap due to the increased expense of living in Sydney, but it will be banished by 2017.
Ireland said he believed the AFL made the decision to penalise the powerhouse last year in part due to “how it would be seen if we did recruit a high-profile player”.
“But in the end we’ve come up with a compromise both parties willing to accept,” Ireland said.
“We are pleased to be back in a position, like the 17 other clubs, to trade players and recruit free agents to our club.”
Sydney officials were furious when the league enforced the ban on the eve of last year’s exchange period, preventing it from replacing departing free agent Nick Malceski and second-year forward Tim Membrey with another existing AFL player.
AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said the league executive discussed a range of alternatives this week following ongoing talks with the Swans and the AFL Players’ Association.
“At all times, the Sydney Swans have complied fully with the AFL’s rules, and the club has been in discussion with the AFL Commission and executive how it should be allowed to participate in trading during the phase out process,” Dillon said.
“The AFL is pleased that this outcome has been reached to the satisfaction of the club, the AFL and the AFL Players’ Association.”
Players’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh said the ban was unfair on the Swans and its players.
“These concerns were raised with both the AFL and the club and we are now pleased to have reached an agreement with all parties,” Marsh said.
“We believe this to be a more effective solution and one that will allow Sydney to participate in the trade and free agency process.”
Bit of sliding doors. Would Kav! still have been a Bomber if not for the one-year ban?
Would it have affected our other trading/drafting?
And when will the AFL put the NSW kids under a bidding system like everyone else?