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THE AFL'S free agency system unfairly benefits clubs in premiership contention at the expense of struggling teams, according to Melbourne coach Paul Roos and St Kilda coach Alan Richardson.

Their criticism comes after Melbourne's unrestricted free agent James Frawley was believed to have settled on reigning premier Hawthorn as his preferred club ahead of the free agency period opening on Friday.

Roos, a long-time detractor of free agency in the AFL, was particularly scathing after losing his key defender.

"Free agency is the greatest de-equalisation policy we've had in the last 100 years of footy," Roos said at the NAB AFL Draft Combine on Thursday.

"The players wanted it and the clubs have just got to deal with it.

"Probably about five years ago we had as even a competition as what we'd ever seen.

"Now we've got another factor that's been introduced which is clearly going to benefit the top clubs and we're already seeing that."

However, later on Thursday, AFL general manager of football operations Mark Evans moved to quell some of the disquiet surrounding free agency.

"I think most people would think that the delisted free agency has worked well – that if you can find a home then good on you," Evans told SEN.

"But I would say that out of the other two modes (unrestricted and restricted free agency), restricted free agents we've had eight and they've gone to eight separate clubs.

"Unrestricted free agents, we've had nine, and they've gone to eight separate clubs, six of those being different (to the clubs that lured) restricted free agents.

"So they've certainly been spread out in the first two years, but the challenge is for us to get enough years of data to see whether it's having the right impact or not."

Roos has raised his concerns with then acting AFL Players Association boss Ian Prendergast, while he believes one other senior coach had also spoken to the AFL and AFLPA at the start of this season about an alternative proposal.

The idea involves the League controlling all player contracts and taking the retention of players out of the clubs' hands.

This model works successfully in other leagues around the world, particularly in the US, and paves the way for players to move to the club of their choice.

Richardson said free agency was currently serving a different purpose to that originally touted when the system was introduced.

"It's pretty obvious who the players are picking these days," Richardson said.

"They're looking for opportunities to win a flag.

"That's not really what it was designed for. My understanding is that it was for blokes who weren't getting an opportunity, and had given great service over eight years and perhaps could move on."

Twitter: @AFL_BenGuthrie