Marlion Pickett with the 2019 Grand Final cup. Picture: AFL Photos

STORIES like Marlion Pickett's Grand Final heroics on debut might be a thing of the past should clubs be forced to cut welfare and development staff from football departments in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown, Richmond CEO Brendon Gale has warned.

The Tigers took a punt on the 27-year-old Pickett in last year's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, completing an inspiring redemption story for the classy midfielder after he was imprisoned for robbery-related offences in 2010.


Pickett was the first player to debut in an AFL/VFL Grand Final in 67 years, producing a stunning display on the big stage to help lead Richmond to its second premiership victory in three years.

However, with clubs across the competition forced to stand down 80 percent of their staff recently due to the game's suspension as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and with more cost cutting expected to follow, Gale is concerned such stories soon won't be possible.

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"I just wonder, if we're going to make really hard choices and priorities, clubs won't be able to take those risks," Gale told Fox Footy.

"Clubs won't have those environments or the resources to bring on those sorts of people, to develop and grow them and realise their potential.

"As we try to forge a way forward in anticipation of significant reductions in revenue, clubs are going to have to really prioritise the non-negotiables in the football ecosystem."


Competition is currently suspended until at least the end of May 31, with the League set to determine if further stoppages in play are required at the end of April.