The dirty secret about free agency: it helps players
Everyone who loves football should really be talking about the best grand final in a decade, after the Swans surprised the Hawks in a great contest. Instead, that dirty free agency has reared its ugly head and swallowed up all the media coverage.
With Brendan Goddard announcing a move to Essendon, the vultures came out.
Former Sydney coach Paul Roos lamented the rise of free agency on Foxtel’s On the Couch last night, calling it a “sad day for football”.
Coaches such as Scott Watters and Mick Malthouse have derided the system on the basis that it will hurt football.
Meanwhile, Eddie McGuire, the patron saint of helping smaller clubs, was worried that crippled clubs will suffer under this new regime.
Ironically, McGuire made his concerns known on the day it was reported that the Magpies were trying to poach Kurt Tippett.
There are so many fallacies in this debate but there are three issues I have with those who deride free agency.
The first issue is that the people that dislike this system are the ones who will play it to the maximum.
Think about the people who I have quoted and their past and future history.
Malthouse and his new club wanted to poach Travis Cloke using the same system that the new coach has been so dead against.
Watters, I have no doubt, will enter when required while McGuire has been quoted as saying he will build a “war chest” to poach other clubs (big or small) into the ground if they touched any Magpies players.
Sure it might be uncomfortable for the above, however I doubt that will stop a Malthouse using the system to snare a player or McGuire from authorising his club to poach players from smaller clubs.
My second issue is the silly belief that the superstars will be moving around all the time.
Apart from the fact the salary cap containing wages, the bigger players are well looked after at their clubs, it would take a large chunk of another team’s cap for them to even entertain a move.
While I am sure that there will be superstars who will change clubs under free agency (it’s been happening for years already), this system is designed to ensure fringe players have the ability to move for better opportunities without clubs curtailing their plans.
Take for example the current movements.
While Goddard and Tippett are big fish changing clubs, who else in this category is entertaining a move away?
The real free agency players such as Jordan Russell, Chris Knights, Quinten Lynch, Brett Thornton, Josh Caddy and Tory Chaplin are simply looking for better opportunities to play than they receive at their current clubs.
Why should they have to endure the humiliation of having their decision made for them by their club who, despite not wanting them, still wants to play hardball?
Finally, the gall of clubs to brand players who leave as ‘mercenaries’ and ‘not team oriented’ is sickening.
These clubs are the ones who end careers of players with a tap on the shoulder and no right of reply.
While I understand it has to be done, you can’t play the team loyalty card on players who depart when, as a club, you need to forsake that loyalty to be successful.
In conclusion, the tripe of AFL figures is just a smokescreen to hide their disgust at losing power over players.
As long as players are respectful and upfront about their destinations, free agency will work and the world will keep on spinning (unless the Mayans are right, then we are all doomed).
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