AFL free agency inevitable: Matthews - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL free agency inevitable: Matthews

By Laine Clark 14/04/2008 04:02:37 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane Lions coach Leigh Matthews believes it is inevitable that the AFL adopts free agency.

Matthews said it would be "almost impossible" for the AFL's mooted West Sydney and Gold Coast clubs to become a reality under the current trade and draft system.

Player agent Ricky Nixon is threatening legal action against the AFL if they don't introduce free agency.

The AFL Players Association is also campaigning for its introduction.

Matthews said he believed free agency would ensure the emergence of the West Sydney and the Gold Coast clubs.

"I think there is an inevitability about free agency, in some shape or form it will come in," he said in Brisbane.

"And the fact that there is two new clubs that the AFL wants to form that gives a reason (for its adoption).

"Without free agency it would be almost impossible to put those clubs together."

Matthews' comments fly in the face of Lions boss Michael Bowers' view on free agency.

The club's chief executive last weekend condemned free agency, saying it would widen the gap between the strong and weak clubs.

While Matthews said the AFL had "thrived" under the current system, he believed people could become "paranoid" about free agency's introduction.

Not that Matthews didn't have any concerns about free agency, especially in light of the Ben Holland controversy.

The AFL has launched an investigation into possible salary cap breaches by Richmond after Holland took legal action against his former club.

Holland is suing former Richmond president Clinton Casey and his old club for $530,000 in losses and damages.

He claims former Tigers coach Danny Frawley and Casey failed to deliver business and investment opportunities they promised him at a Crown Casino meeting in late 2001.

"You hear rumours here and there and you hope that that's all they are," Matthews said of cap breaches.

"That there's no ability for a club to say we will pay you a million dollars under the salary cap and you will end up earning $500,000 outside the cap doing this for a, b and c organisations, that's the thing where it gets a little bit scary.

"As long as that is not happening and the authorities make sure it is not happening it's a free market - everyone has got the same amount of money to spend.

"That's the challenge for the AFL - make sure the bending of rules are eradicated, if they exist at all."

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