RECRUITING and list management departments are bracing for significant change as the AFL prepares to reveal its soft cap figure for next season.
The likely slashing of the football department spend from $9.7 million by more than $3 million is set to impact recruiting divisions, which was one of the hardest hit areas after the season's shutdown.
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But clubs contacted by AFL.com.au are also looking at creative ways to get the edge in the list management space, with 'gun for hire' type roles for the trade and free agency period, negotiation experts and specialised positions being debated.
It is understood Essendon earlier this year discussed a potential consulting role for former Carlton champion and list manager Stephen Silvagni.
The Bombers have been one of the most busy trading clubs in recent years, successfully bringing in star trio Jake Stringer, Adam Saad and Devon Smith at the end of 2017 before landing jet midfielder Dylan Shiel in 2018.
Silvagni, who departed from the Blues as list manager at the end of last year, is a confidant of long-time Bombers list boss Adrian Dodoro.
The pair have a long friendship, with Dodoro even placing a bid on Jack Silvagni under the father-son rule in his 2015 NAB AFL Draft year.
The Bombers are however among the many clubs who have had to make significant change to their list management and recruiting division after the shattering impact of COVID-19.
Nine-month contracts for recruiters had been in place in some clubs before the fallout from the pandemic hit football, but some clubs are seeing chances to bring in experienced eyes from rivals for smaller blocks of time with budgets to be cut.
Former Giants football boss Graeme Allan, who helped establish Greater Western Sydney's inaugural list, was in a similar role with North Melbourne's list management team before taking on an 'advisory' position at St Kilda where his experience in contract talks was seen as beneficial for the Saints' haul of trade targets last year.
"There's definitely room for these roles and for these trends to come in more and more," one experienced list boss said.
List managers from around the competition are now back working for their respective clubs, while the majority of recruiting managers are also back on deck as state leagues and under-18 competitions gear up towards returns to the field.
There remains much uncertainty within the industry, however, about how scaled back recruiting departments could look at the end of this season.
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From this weekend clubs are also able to arrange interviews with draftees again, having banned from any official contact with prospects since March due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Clubs are hopeful that they will be able to maintain recruiting and pro scouting personnel beyond the recruiting and list manager roles.