North Melbourne veteran Drew Petrie is the latest player to voice his support for the Players’ Association’s proposed changes to free agency criteria, which would allow players to become restricted free agents after six years and unrestricted free agents after eight years. Currently, players must serve eight and ten years, respectively, to qualify as restricted and unrestricted free agents.
Speaking on SEN’s Morning Glory program this morning, Petrie outlined a perspective shared by Brisbane champion Jonathan Brown and Geelong triple-premiership player James Kelly in recent days – that the proposed changes would prevent all the best players from joining clubs at the top of the ladder, and would result in a more balanced competition.
The comments are in line AFL Players’ CEO Paul Marsh’s view. Marsh believes “expanded free agency coupled with competitive balance measures designed to ensure clubs can spend 100 per cent of their salary cap will allow clubs, especially those with a longer-term list management strategy, to access free agents.
“These clubs will theoretically have more salary cap space to use, particularly with the ability to “bank” money due to now being able to average 100 per cent of the salary cap over three years, and will be able to use free agency to regenerate their lists more quickly than through traditional drafting and trading of players.”
The players’ comments can be found below.
drew petrie – North Melbourne
“At the moment, when you’ve got older players with the ability to move without any restrictions, and being in the back part of their careers, they’re going to go to clubs at the top of the ladder. But if you can open up player movement to players in the middle of their careers who have got four or five years left, they won’t always be wanting to go to clubs at the top of the ladder. They’ll be willing to build and grow at a lower club.
“We used to always kick up a stink about trade week, and how nothing ever happened, and now there’s been a little bit of movement – and it’s only been a little bit of movement each year, there hasn’t been a truckload, by any stretch – and now that that’s the case we’re all up in arms about that too.
“I think the reporting sometimes can be a little bit tilted towards the negative, but from a player’s point of view – and we’re the ones that put on the show – the players are just wanting to free up some movement to create opportunities for guys who might not be getting that at the club they’re currently at.”
JONATHAN BROWN – BRISBANE LIONS
“Is the age (qualification) too old so only older guys want to go to a contender?
“If I was a free agent coming out of contract at 28 there is no way I would go to a side that was in the bottom eight and rebuilding, but if I was 24 I would look at it. The side might be on the way up and three or four years away from being a top eight side, but I would be willing to go there.
“Free agency will sort itself out, clubs will get better at using it.
“It will balance itself out and get rejigged in some ways. You need to look at whether the free agency age needs to be lowered.”
James Kelly – Geelong
“I understand powerful clubs seem to be getting all the good players, but … if you were a 26-, 27-, 28-year-old, you’re not going to want to go to a club that’s in a five-year rebuilding phase because you might not be there (for success).
“Guys are leaving because they want to win games and they want to have success. That’s really why everyone plays.
“But if you’re giving younger players more of an opportunity to be a part of growing a club, then it’ll become more attractive for them. Then it’s not just about the money, it’s about being a part of a club that’s on the way up, rather than trying to chase the cash at a big club and win some games.
“After three or four years (at a club) you probably know where you sit within the group.
“If there’s an opportunity at another club, then you should be able to go. I don’t see the reasons why you couldn’t.
“We (players) have got such a short opportunity and such a short period of time to get the most out of our bodies. The game should be about the players and where they want to go.”
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