Ex-Saint Brendon Goddard joined Essendon as a free agent
We'll probably have to get to a point where we're all organised and can say, 'OK, we've lost that player but it's freed up $600,000 in the salary cap
LEADING player manager Craig Kelly has supported calls for compensation picks to be abolished as the AFL moves closer to reviewing its free agency model.
The League and AFL Players' Association will meet mid-year to discuss the first year of free agency, with the future of the compensation picks on the agenda.
While some clubs believe the draft selections play a role in the competition's equalisation agenda, Kelly, the long-time chief executive and co-founder of Elite Sports Properties management group, believes handing out draft picks muddies the process.
"I personally think it makes it messy and complicated," Kelly told AFL.com.au.
"If there were none the deal could just be done and it [would be] about managing your salary cap and freeing up space to go and get other free agents."
ESP had a group of clients – including Brendon Goddard, Danyle Pearce, Shannon Byrnes, Jared Rivers and Angus Monfries – who crossed to rival clubs through last year's inaugural free agency period.
Kelly says clubs will work several years in advance so that if they lose a free agent they are immediately prepared to chase a replacement.
"I can understand why they wanted [the compensation picks], but we'll probably have to get to a point where we're all organised and can say 'OK, we've lost that player but it's freed up $600,000 in the salary cap, what can we do with it?'" he said.
While the competition grows into the free agency era, Kelly and ESP are also moving into their next phase, with the company on Monday launching its Perth office.
ESP recently acquired Perth-based company Vault Sports Management, owned by Wayne Smith. Smith will head ESP's Perth arm.
Kelly worked for the Collingwood marketing department before starting Ned Promotions in 1993 while he was still playing for the Magpies. ESP now has offices in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and London, managing AFL players, cricketers and Olympic athletes.
The rationale behind a Perth office is simple. It wants to support its talent already in Perth, like Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich and West Coast star Beau Waters, but also wants them to have an easy link to networks and opportunities in Melbourne and Sydney.
Kelly believes ESP needs to be more active with talent identification and recruiting in the region, and have a greater presence on the ground for interstate athletes who relocate to Western Australia.
"I don't believe the current Perth management groups do it as well as it can be done, and they have no connection to the Eastern seaboard," Kelly said.
The reception from their West Australian clients has already been strong, with Pavlich having a key role in the implementation.
"He's an old Adelaide boy but Perth's where he's built a beautiful house, and has a young family. He wants to be there for the long haul. He has been one that we've really wanted to make sure we've engaged with through this process," Kelly said.
Respected player agent Dan Richardson announced his departure from ESP in February to take on the role as Richmond's football manager, seeing a restructure in the management group.
Having headed the South Australian base, Justin Reid will move to Melbourne later this year to run ESP's football department, with former Adelaide Crows defender Michael Doughty to hold a more prominent full-time role in Adelaide.
"It's great for Dan," Kelly said.
"The more people employed from ESP to the AFL or clubs means we're doing something right."
Follow AFL website reporter Callum Twomey on Twitter at @AFL_CalTwomey.