CLUBS are heading into exit meetings with players unable to offer guarantees on their futures as the AFL remains a distance from settling on list sizes for next year.

The League briefed club bosses on Monday on a number of issues including how lists could be shaped in 2021, but clubs left the meeting unsure when they would be informed about how many players they will be able to take into next season. 

It is understood AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan was unable to give a position and timeline to clubs about list sizes, with some now fearing they may not know numbers until deeper into the finals or potentially until the end of the season.

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The AFL had been attempting to separate the list cuttings from the full Collective Bargaining Agreement discussions with the AFL Players' Association, however it is being treated as one entity.

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With 10 clubs' seasons now over, some have been reluctant to make decisions on players and to inform them of their futures without certainty on list numbers.

It also leaves the clubs holding off on making trade offers to rival players and settling on the amount of draft picks they want to use this year given the mechanics of list management calls. The number for next year will also have a flow-on effect on how clubs manage their second-tier teams. 

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It is believed a number of clubs have told players over the past week that their spot at their respective team couldn't be assured until numbers were confirmed for 2021.

Players, too, are grappling with that waiting period as they head into the off-season without clarity.

There remains debate within the industry about the preferred list model for next year, although the AFL has told clubs that any significant cuts would be done gradually.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has called on the AFL to decide on the list numbers to provide certainty for the competition. 

North Melbourne last week delisted 11 players the day after its final game but nearly another quarter of its 2020 list remains unsigned for 2021, while Essendon has also already bid farewell to seven players through either retirements or delistings.