CLUBS are preparing for a small trim to playing list sizes for next season ahead of potential further cuts in the following years.
Negotiations are still ongoing between the AFL and AFL Players' Association, but it's looking increasingly likely there will be 42 players on lists in 2021, plus up to two Category B rookies.
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That would be down from 44 this year, with three Category B rookies, a status designated to international and alternative talent prospects.
It's believed AFLPA representatives started discussing this possibility with players from across the competition last week.
The composition would range from 38 footballers on the primary list and four Category A rookies – who can play at senior level, but their wage doesn't count in the salary cap – to 40 and two.
That combination will probably be left to individual clubs to decide, as is the case in the current set-up.
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Club list bosses were readying themselves for a reduction to 40 as recently as a fortnight ago, but that number is understood to have changed since then.
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It's unclear what list number the AFL would like to eventually get to with gradual cuts in the coming seasons.
There will be interest in where Gold Coast lands, given special concessions enabled the Suns to have extra players on their list in 2020. They had 51 this past season.
Gold Coast has made 10 list changes, including the retirements of Pearce Hanley, Anthony Miles and George Horlin-Smith, and don't intend to make any further delistings.
They are set to sign Crows free agent Rory Atkins, but may trade contracted pair Peter Wright and Will Brodie, who have struggled to earn senior opportunities.
It's been a long process to reduce list sizes, with the topic on the agenda as far back as last season – before the COVID-19 pandemic – and being discussed with clubs at the start of this year.