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Clubs will mutiny if Dees receive priority pick: Barrett

Damian Barrett  September 10, 2013 7:00 AM

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The Demons have their man in Paul Roos, but will they be granted a priority pick?

FOR THOSE who hold positions of power in AFL Clubland, it is now practice to keep private your harshest opinions on the game.

It's easier that way. No one at code headquarters will lop your head off. Rivals won't accuse you of whinging.

Now that Jeff Kennett is gone, and with the exception of Paul Little, who recently hijacked the entire code with a terribly misguided and embarrassing fight for supposed justice, there is only a softly, softly approach.

Even Eddie McGuire shuts up most times these days, though there are rare, and refreshing exceptions.

John Elliott, Allan McAlister, Graeme McMahon and Andrew Plympton must be rolling their eyes in disgust at the lack of collective fight that has been on display in recent years.

But if the AFL wants to get a feel for what it was once like, when clubs regularly snarled and threatened and made big and negative public statements, it only has to do one thing: grant the Melbourne Football Club its request for a priority selection in this year's national draft.

Demons don't deserve priority pick

As the AFL executive finalises its position on that request, and as AFL commissioners continue to muse before their next official gathering on Brownlow Medal day, those in Clubland are preparing to mutiny.

In an AFL era where nearly nothing is simple or straightforward, this topic is old school in its galvanising qualities for football clubs.

Melbourne has been given enough assistance in recent years, been a debilitating drain on the entire competition for too long.

So incompetent had it become that within eight months of being hit with a $500,000 fine for a Clayton's form of tanking, that it managed, through new CEO Peter Jackson, a man unburdened by the Demons' pitiful recent past, to secure $2.7 million of special assistance from the AFL.

Adelaide clubs against Demons' priority pick

Of that figure, $400,000 could be used to help secure Paul Roos as coach. 

And now it wants another priority pick, which, under new rules, can be granted by way of AFL commission "discretion".

In other words, the system under which it was sanctioned for is the same system under which it is now asking for yet another reward.

Maybe Jackson was still dizzy with his incredible success in getting Roos' signature when he last week made an impassioned public plea for the priority draft pick.

Maybe he knows deep down what rival clubs will do should he receive it. One thing you can say about Jackson is that he doesn't care one bit what people say about him, and in this often-brutal AFL world, that is a great quality.

Mainly through incompetence and a well-entrenched pall of mediocrity, Melbourne has for too long sought the easy way out.

Do the Dees need the priority pick?

Since 2006, it has had 15 national draft selections inside pick 26, 11 of those picks in the top 14. It has had two priority selections, two No.1 overall picks, six picks in the top four.

It already has pick No.2 overall in the 2013 national draft.

It now has Paul Roos, which for the first time in a very long time, means it has hope for the future and can immediately shed the woe-is-us attitude that it has almost reveled in.

Jackson is a smart man, as smart as they come when it comes to AFL club CEOs, and is aware of the other clubs' anger on this issue.

In gaining the AFL financial assistance package and in delivering Roos to the Demons, Jackson has already succeeded. 

He could make an equally powerful decision before the next AFL commission meeting: withdraw his request for the priority pick.

And attach to that withdrawal a statement along these lines: "We at Melbourne no longer want nor need any more AFL assistance. We are sick of people looking at us with disdain and embarrassment. We hereby commit to fighting our way out of trouble, all on our own."

Sometimes, all that is required is an attitude adjustment, and such an attitude adjustment would be beneficial not just to the Melbourne Footy Club, but also the entire competition.

Twitter: @barrettdamian