AFL free agency: Nothing to fear after all
If you listened to many AFL coaches or commentators, the pending introduction of free agency was going to create a monster in the game that would see more poaching than an African game reserve and see the game turn into the English Premier League.
The first free agency period has now come and gone, and the noise made earlier in the year has proved to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The big bad monster was nothing but a myth, with moves no more spectacular than the usual trade periods of years gone by.
What it has shown is that the clubs were ultimately afraid of one thing – losing their power. The big feature of free agency is that it gave the players a lot more control over their playing futures.
Let’s not forget one important thing – while it might seem like great fun to us, this is someone’s livelihood we are talking about.
How would you like it if your boss wouldn’t allow you to leave and go to another company that is going to give you a better opportunity?
With the exception of Brendan Goddard’s move to Essendon (which as a Bombers fan I am absolutely delighted with), most of the free agency moves were made by those who were on the outer with their clubs, or had struggled to get a regular run in the top grade.
Clubs cannot cry foul here – if they were so important to you, why did they not play 20+ games this year? Why did you not re-sign them?
Plaudits need to be given to the AFL for the way they have structured the free agency. The classification of restricted and unrestricted free agents gave a good balance of freedom to the club and the players.
It was very interesting to note that with the restricted free agents, not once was there a situation where the original club chose to match the bid made by the new club. Again, if the player was so important, why did they not fight to keep them?
With all of this out of the way, we can now look forward to the draft for this year, and the 2013 season.
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