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How to revamp AFL lists after COVID-19

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Roar Rookie
22nd April, 2020

With all the talk about changes to list sizes and the possible reduction of the lists in the AFL, my thought is to split the list into the following categories: a primary list, a secondary list, and a development list.

The primary list
This would be made up of those considered the top 25 players on the list. This could also be where players have a minimum of 12 months on a contract.

It would have a maximum share of 60 per cent (minimum) to 70 per cent (maximum) of the salary cap. Players could still be traded under the same movement restrictions that currently exists. It could maybe include up to two marquee players, and the AFL contributes to their salary.

The secondary list
These players would share a maximum of 15 to 20 per cent of the salary cap. The secondary list would be made up of those considered the next ten players on the list. Most would be considered to play mainly reserves like the VFL, however, they would be readily called upon to play in the main team.

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This could also be where players have a maximum of 24 months on a contract. Players from this list could be approached by other clubs from, say, August onwards in the last year of their contract about transferring to another club.

The player can leave their club to go to the new club in the same sort of manner as restricted free agency. Players can also be given another 24-month contract by their current club again, or if given longer, be upgraded to the primary list.

The players could also be upgraded during their contract as per normal at a draft time when players can be elevated or upgraded to the normal list now, like Dean Cox was at West Coast and Matthew Boyd was at the Bulldogs. The club would get first choice on them at draft time, although other clubs could draft them as long as they are out of contract.

Richmond Tigers' Dion Prestia handpassing

(Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

The development list
This would have a minimum of five players and maybe no maximum number. This could also be where players have a minimum of 12 months on a contract. The last five to ten per cent of the salary cap would be distributed between these players.

This is where the old rookie or category B players would be listed. The players on this list could be approached by other clubs if their current club doesn’t want to upgrade them to either the secondary or primary lists.


However, the club also has the first choice on the players on this list. If another club does want to list them, a suitable trade needs to be arranged to counter the cost of developing the player. This could be in the form of a draft pick or money.

In the case of money, it would need to be the agreed cost that the club has spent on the players’ development plus maybe 15 per cent on top to discourage clubs from playing games with the lists. The approaching club would also need to put this player on the maximum contract on offer for the secondary listed players (i.e. you can’t go from one development list to another). So to approach a player on this list, the approaching club would need to be serious in their approach.

The number could be different from each list, and the percentage of the salary caps may be different to what I’ve suggested as well. The salary cap should just be the maximum amount that can be paid over a year. The minimum should be more towards 80 per cent of the cap, not 95 per cent. This would allow more room for bonuses to be paid as well. Each list just needs to be in the ranges given.