NORTHERN academy prospects may not need to be nominated by their aligned clubs close to this year's draft, as the AFL considers a new nomination process to fall in line with the live bidding system.
The League will weigh up the best way to update the nomination protocol to fit within its major move of introducing bidding as a live element of draft night.
The deadline for nominations for father-son and academy players in recent years has fallen on the NAB AFL Draft Combine's final day, which was three days before the annual bidding meeting at Etihad Stadium that kicked off the trade period in early October.
When a prospect was nominated, it meant he was assured of finding a home: if a rival club didn't bid, the player would automatically join his nominated club with its last pick at the ensuing draft.
But under the new points-based bidding system, which was unveiled in May, the bidding is likely to take place as a live element of draft night in late November.
The relevant technology is expected to be developed and tested in time for the event.
It means clubs will have several more weeks to nominate father-son players as priority selections, with the deadline possibly being pushed back to a week before the draft.
The delay in making a decision would benefit clubs who want to wait until after the trade period is completed to see what draft selections they have before committing to drafting a father-son prospect.
It would also allow a player in the position of Josh Dunkley – who is eligible to join the Sydney Swans as a father-son selection but may also enter the open draft – longer to make his call.
Dunkley told AFL.com.au this week he would wait until later in the year before deciding one way or the other, with a major factor being his family, which is based in Victoria.
Swans father-son prospect Josh Dunkley has a big decision to make. Picture: AFL Media
Clubs have asked the AFL how the updated nomination process will work this year, with several options to be worked through.
Father-sons will always need to be publicly nominated by their respective clubs because they have to agree to join that club.
However, because academy players are already tied to their attached clubs through living in one of the specific regions, the four northern clubs may not need to show their hands before the draft.
One idea is for the northern clubs to supply a list some time in August of the players who qualify as zone picks that they will consider, and then take away the second deadline for individual nominations.
It would mean academy prospects head into the draft like the wider pool, unsure if their tied club will take them or not.
For instance, when a rival club calls the name of Sydney Swans academy player Callum Mills, the Swans would be able to match the bid or let him go with Mills (in theory) unaware if the Swans hope to take him or not.
It would add another layer of uncertainty to a draft night that the AFL hopes will carry extra interest this year.
The group listing was a part of the previous nomination process, with the four northern clubs (the Swans, GWS, Gold Coast and Brisbane Lions) providing in August a register of the prospects who shaped as possible academy selections.
Last year 35 players were named in that initial list, but only seven were taken through the bidding process after being nominated as preferred picks at the second deadline.