Expansion signings 'must be pragmatic' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Expansion signings 'must be pragmatic'

By Roger Vaughan 17/02/2010 10:02:28 PM Comments (0)

The AFL Players' Association argues there has to be some "pragmatism" about how the league's expansion clubs try to sign top players.

It is understood that the Gold Coast club has acted within the AFL rules by gaining secret commitments from several established players to join them at the end of this season.

Those players would come out of contract for 2011, when Gold Coast join the league.

Gold Coast cannot reach agreement with current AFL players during this season, but under league rules they had a brief period before the December pre-season draft when they could seek commitments.

There is speculation that up to 10 players who come out of contract at the end of this season have committed to Gold Coast.

It is well-known that Geelong's Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett is Gold Coast's No.1 recruiting target, while there is speculation that they are also chasing rising Essendon star Michael Hurley and Hawthorn utility Campbell Brown.

Players' association chief executive Matt Finnis says this situation is different to rugby league, where players can sign with a new club mid-season.

"There's a difference between a player sitting in front of a rival club's sponsorship banner and talking up his pride in joining that new club, when that club is competing against them," Finnis said.

"This situation, we're talking about new teams which aren't playing in the current competition in that period.

"Probably there would be a degree of pragmatism that would recognise this is not about introducing a rugby-league style system of players changing clubs in the middle of the season."

But the sensitivity of the issue was clear when Finnis was asked if he was aware of any players secretly committing to Gold Coast.

"Sometimes it's better not to ask," Finnis said.

Meanwhile, Finnis also said it remained unclear if or when the AFL would agree to some form of player free agency.

"All I can say is we haven't got an agreement ... while we've been encouraged by some genuinely-collaborative dialogue since Christmas," Finnis said.

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