Could the AFL catch a cold from the draft?
The week of the 2009 AFL draft looms as a test of patience for the AFL Players Association with the AFL’s draft laws. In the background is the issue of Free Agency, which is lurking like Swine Flu ready to strike again.
The draft system exists on the goodwill of both the AFLPA and the AFL and clubs in that 99 percent of the time all parties are best served by the draft system.
The drafting of unloved St Kilda player Luke Ball in either the main draft or the pre-season draft will test the resolve of all parties.
Ball has been accused of draft tampering by some for nominating which clubs he would like to go to. In a draft system, you go to the club who picks you.
Normally there is some outside discussion as clubs and players align with each other to form a positive partnership. It is unhealthy for any club to pick up a player who does not want to play for them.
However, Luke Ball may prove to be a problem.
Collingwood appears his first choice, with Essendon second. However, Melbourne or Richmond with early draft picks could pick up Ball.
If Ball refuses to go to any club, he has to stand out of the game for two years. This appears harsh, but you’re either in or out with the draft system, as free agency is currently not in the rules.
One thing is for certain, the AFLPA will be watching closely how the Luke Ball situation unfolds. It has to be said that it is very unusual for a high profile player like Ball not to be traded in trade week.
The draft might get the blame when, in fact, it was the two clubs (St Kilda and Collingwood) who were at fault for not reaching a mutual agreement when the trade window was wide open.
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