THE SYDNEY Swans can replace a player who leaves as either a free agent or through a trade, with a contract of up to $450,000 for the new player under revised trade restrictions set by the AFL.
The decision may open the way for the Swans to recruit Brisbane Lions free agent Matthew Leuenberger if premiership wingman Lewis Jetta decides to return to Western Australia to join West Coast during the trade period.
The Swans were banned from trading in players during the 2014 exchange period after negotiations with the AFL that led to the club being given two years to phase out its cost of living allowance (COLA).
It also happened the season after the club had successfully secured Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett in consecutive seasons.
The original two-year ban was then softened in January to allow the Swans to trade in players in the 2015 trade period who were at or below the current average wage of $340,000.
The Swans reluctantly accepted that compromise but then decided to challenge the decision once more in the hope they might gain a free agent to meet their needs for a ruckman, a key defender and some pace.
Football manager Tom Harley said the decision would give the Swans more flexibility during the upcoming exchange period although they still held the view that the restriction was unnecessary.
"The club has not breached an AFL rule and we still consider the initial ruling unnecessary," he said.
"However, we accept the AFL's clarification on the decision and now consider the matter closed."
The AFL's legal counsel Andrew Dillon said the AFL accepted the restrictions needed easing so the Swans could replace a player if they lost one with a contract offer of up to $450,000 a year.
If the club chooses to replace a departing player with this option, the Sydney Swans' transitional COLA amount of $600,000 for the 2016 season will be lowered by 9.8 per cent of the traded out player's contract, if that player was contracted for 2016.
"At all times, the Sydney Swans have complied fully with the AFL's rules, and the club has been in regular discussion with the AFL Executive about how it may approach the exchange period with the prospect that a senior player may elect to leave the club and how he may be replaced," Dillon said.
"The AFL has sought to work with the club to reach an effective solution to allow Sydney to participate in the trade and free agency process, while acknowledging that its current COLA payment that does not apply to 16 other clubs across the AFL, is being phased out of the competition."
The Sydney Swans play North Melbourne in the semi-final this Saturday night.