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Players could be traded without consent

Nick Bowen  March 12, 2014 3:55 PM

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PLAYERS could be traded without their consent under a radical proposal being floated by one Victorian club, as player movement looks set to become this year's next big issue after equalisation.
 
The club told AFL.com.au its proposal sought to address an imbalance in the existing player movement landscape that favoured the competition's stronger teams and effectively undermined the AFL's equalisation push.
 
At the moment, a club can only trade a player if he agrees to move to a specified club.
 
A senior official at the proponent club said this system had worked to the advantage of powerhouse teams, fostering a culture where players generally nominated their preferred teams and, more often than not, got there.
 
The official said the introduction of free agency in 2012 and the AFL Players' Association's push to widen its qualification criteria at this year's Collective Bargaining Agreement mid-term review had only stacked the player movement odds further in the favour of stronger teams.
 
"The equalisation talks at the moment are really about off-field equalisation, making sure that every club has the necessary money to pay 100 per cent of the salary cap and fund a competitive footy department," the official said.
 
"But we still need to do something about on-field equalisation because the current player movement rules are skewed too far in favour of the stronger clubs.

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"We're seeing with free agency that the star players who leave are generally joining the stronger clubs and that's only going to increase if the qualification period is reduced (from a minimum eight years).
 
"And during trade time clubs lose most of their bargaining power when a player nominates his preferred new club. They're forced to either do a deal with that club or let the player go for nothing."
 
The best recent example of this came in last year's trade period when the Brisbane Lions reluctantly traded five of their earliest 2010-11 draft picks – Jared Polec, Patrick Karnezis, Billy Longer, Sam Docherty and Elliot Yeo – for far lesser returns.
 
It is understood the club has informally flagged its proposal with the AFL on several occasions and that it might be put on the agenda when the CBA mid-term review gets underway later this year.

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However, the club appreciates it would be a radical departure from the status quo and might not be readily accepted by the AFL, AFLPA and other clubs.
 
AFL.com.au spoke with six other clubs who were evenly split about the merits of the proposed trade shake-up.
 
The three clubs that opposed it believed it would be too great a departure from the competition's existing culture.
 
"I don't think you should ever be able to trade a player without his consent – and it won't happen in our lifetime either," one club football manager said.
 
"I don't think a club would want to take on a player who doesn't want to be there either, especially if that player is being asked to move interstate."
 
But the other three teams agreed that giving clubs the power to trade players without their consent would not only result in fairer trades, but also ensure more trades were done every year.
 
"There would be six more trades done every year if this proposal got up," a club list manager said.
 
The AFL and AFLPA preferred not to comment when contacted by AFL.com.au on Wednesday.
 
Twitter: @AFL_Nick