Demetriou backs free market AFL future - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Demetriou backs free market AFL future

By Daniel Brettig, Guy Hand and Roger Vaughan 18/08/2010 05:06:15 PM Comments (0)

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou shares none of Adelaide coach Neil Craig's pessimism about the death of player loyalty after Nathan Bock's Gold Coast defection.

Demetriou said no existing club should complain about the Suns' recruiting concessions or the looming era of free agency, given their roles in approving the regulations.

"There were six or seven club representatives on the group that formed those rules, all the clubs were aware of it," Demetriou said on Wednesday.

"It was a very mature and sensible way the Crows and Nathan Bock went through with it.

"The Crows aren't in the finals, Nathan Bock indicated that he's looking at the Gold Coast Suns for his future, and they came together and agreed to part, and there'll be more of those players that will be announced.

"They're not the first players to leave a club.

"It seemed to be the logical thing, I hope Nathan does well on the Gold Coast and that the Crows are compensated adequately."

Bock's decision to join the Suns on a three-year deal worth an estimated $1.8 million had caused Craig to rage against a future in line with big-money sports overseas, where money usually has the final say on a player's future.

"Welcome to the new world of AFL ... that is the culture the AFL are about to create," Craig said.

Demetriou agreed with talk of a new world, but offered enthusiastic support for the free market forces to be unleashed in 2012, with the Gold Coast's free spending merely a foretaste.

"We've got free agency coming in, we've got two new clubs coming in, there'll be more flexibility about player movement," said Demetriou.

"We need to encourage that because we've got an excellent relationship with the players association and it is something they've fought hard for.

"Our game is foreign to employer/employee relationships (outside of) where you've got a draft and a salary cap, and allowing a bit of flexibility we think is a good thing and a very sensible and mature approach."

With the Crows out of finals contention, Craig decided that Bock would not play for the club again.

But Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade - whose running defender Jarrod Harbrow has also been closely linked with a move north - will continue to pick his best 22 regardless of whether a player had committed to the Suns for 2011.

He said decisions to quit clubs mid-season had happened for years.

"It's just transparent because it's a new team started," said Eade.

"It's happened in the past, it's going to happen in the future.

"I'll bet you Chris Judd actually decided (to leave West Coast) mid-season, I'll bet you he didn't decide in September he was going.

"Leigh Colbert left Geelong (for North Melbourne) when Barry Hall left St Kilda (for Sydney) I'm sure he was emotionally out of the place before the end of the season."

Geelong coach Mark Thompson said the Cats were not putting any extra pressure on Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett, who is the Suns' No.1 recruiting target.

Ablett has put off confirming his playing future until post-season.

"We're on talking terms and he hasn't said anything, so everything as normal," said Thompson.

"Gary is in a good spot, he's been playing some terrific footy and we're pretty focussed on finishing out this year.

"We're hoping he signs, but we haven't really talked about it that much, we just know that everybody is pretty happy with what's going on."

Suns coach Guy McKenna was not prepared to even speculate where Bock would slot into his lineup next year, let alone drop any hints about Gold Coast's other prospective recruits.

"It's only fair for the AFL clubs still involved and it's only fair for the players involved and our players who are competing," said McKenna.

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