Port-Boak solution: extend the AFL trading deadline
Port Adelaide coach Matthew Primus should concentrate on preparing his team for their next clash rather than asking his soon to be out of contract midfielder Travis Boak to make a decision regarding his future.
Boak, who is being courted by several clubs in his home state of Victoria, announced this week he would defer negotiations until the end of this year.
A decision was expected this week, after Boak said earlier in the season he would make up his mind after visiting family near Geelong during the Power’s bye this weekend.
According to several news sources, Primus “warned him about taking too long”. Primus was also quoted as saying, “We want to give him his time to do that, but we also don’t want to allow it to drag on for another 10 or 12 weeks.”
Is Boak obliged to heed Primus’ advice? Well, frankly, no. Boak is contracted to play the whole of the 2012 season for Port Adelaide.
What are his options? “Yes, coach, I’m staying even though I would have liked another couple of months to mull it over and not make a rash decision that may see me become quickly disillusioned and hence affect my on filed form for Port.”
Or say, “No, coach, I want to leave at the end of the season but I don’t mind if you drop me from the team for the rest of the season and in the process cost me match payments and any possible bonuses, even though I was quite rightly entitled to play out the season.”
Does Primus use the same tactic for every player coming out of contract? What happens with free-agency starting this year? Does he make the same plea for every possible upcoming free-agent?
This also raises many issues that could/should force the players’ association to act. For example, is it fair to pressure and give less time to decide to a more talented player over a less talented player?
Is Primus therefore obliged to notify out of contract players he intends to axe at the end of the season or contracted players he may be looking at trading?
If Primus and other clubs insist on demanding early commitments, then maybe it’s time the AFL does introduce a mid-season draft or a much better alternative of extending the trade period into the actual season.
Currently the trading period runs for a few weeks in October-November. By extending the trade period into the actual season with a deadline of Round 7-8, it would allow teams to have a better idea whether players in final year contracts were going to leave.
So in Port’s case, Boak could tell Port that he’s leaving and Port could then arrange a trade with another team immediately. This way teams could get more value from out of contract players and the player can play out the season with another club.
If the player was a pending free-agent, the club would have to ensure that the trade is more attractive than the compensation pick they would have received if the free-agent walked away.
Similarly, if a player was going to be axed at the end of the year, he (and his club) would have a longer period to arrange a trade to another club.
Trading Boak during the season could also add more value to Port. Teams that have started the season well could be tempted to pay a premium to gain a crucial piece of the puzzle.
With the introduction of free-agency, not extending the trading deadline would see the current situation with Primus and Boak played out across the league more regularly and place unfair pressure on players.
So unfair that in some cases we may see relations between team and player become so strained that it could be the prime reason why the player leaves…
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