The AFL is implementing special rules around long-term contracts after some clubs have found themselves in messy situations on the back of mega-deals they’ve offered to their star players.
The new requirements come after Brodie Grundy found his way to a third club (Sydney), just 12 months after leaving his original club, Collingwood, while still under contract.
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7NEWS chief AFL reporter Mitch Cleary said the AFL was taking matters “into their own hands”, hitting clubs with an email and demanding “a higher level of scrutiny” when they submit long-term deals to headquarters.
“The memo (was) titled ‘high-risk player contracts’ (and) said that any contract lodged of six years or longer must come with written president and CEO approval to avoid clubs questioning these deals in years to come,” Cleary said.
Grundy was forced out of the Magpies at the end of 2022 due to that club’s salary-cap pressures.
Grundy’s long contract with Collingwood is still causing headaches for the Pies. Credit: Getty Images
In 2020 he had signed a whopping seven-year deal worth around $900,000 a year. Collingwood then paid somewhere between $250-$300,000 of that deal while he was playing at Melbourne this season.
However, the Magpies have declared their reluctance to keep paying that percentage of his contract now Grundy is at the Swans, saying their agreement was with Melbourne only.
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The Demons also stumbled upon a large contract conundrum, with Clayton Oliver signing a seven-year deal mid-way through 2022 that was to begin at the end of this year.
Before that new contract had officially started, Oliver – who had a troubled 2023 through injury and personal issues – had revealed he was willing to move to a new club.
Frustrated by the contract chaos, the AFL has now had enough, telling clubs they must follow the new stipulations.
Cleary said the AFL was demanding greater responsibility from clubs to avoid the Grundy situation.
In this year’s trade period already, North Melbourne’s Ben McKay received an eyebrow-raising six-year deal from Essendon, and, following a brazen approach from Sydney, the Western Bulldogs recently handed out a whopping eight-year deal to high-flying forward Aaron Naughton.
Sydney are no slouch when it comes to the mega-deal, famously locking away Lance Franklin on a $10 million, nine-year contract that infuriated the AFL chiefs of the time.
They also handed dashing defender Nick Blakey a surprising seven-year deal that should keep him at the club until the end of 2031.
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