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AFL approves draft, trading rule changes

1:24 PM Wed 30 April, 2008

AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson

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THE AFL has approved four key areas to the drafting process with three changes set to be introduced for this year's NAB AFL Draft and one in 2009.

These changes were approved by the AFL commission after key recommendations were made from the AFL and AFLPA Player Movement Working Party, which has been examining the competition's draft and trade rules over the past 12 months.

The key changes are:

* A player who is not contracted on or before October 31 will now be eligible to nominate for that year's National Draft. This applies immediately from the upcoming 2008 NAB AFL Draft.

* The eligibility age for the National Draft will increase by four months, so that the player must turn 18 or on before December 31 in the year of that draft. This will not apply until the 2009 NAB AFL Draft.

* Players who have not yet made their AFL debut, but may previously have been on a senior or rookie list, will now be eligible to be listed as mature-age rookies. This will apply immediately for the 2008 NAB AFL Draft.

* The removal of the rules restricting clubs to a maximum of five players traded out in a single year, and the maximum of three players involved in a single player-trade. This will apply immediately for the 2008 NAB AFL Draft.
 
The working party decided against changing the areas of:

* Altering the time or number of drafts that are held from the current system of National Draft, Pre-Season Draft and Rookie Draft.

The working party comprised the AFL's Adrian Anderson, Andrew Dillon, Rod Austin and Simon Lethlean, AFLPA representatives Brendon Gale, Matt Finnis, Bernie Shinners and Laura Sigal and Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg.

Anderson said the aim of the working party was to ensure players had adequate opportunities to move clubs, while keeping the evenness of the draft and salary cap in mind.
 
"The AFL's draft and salary cap rules have produced an evenness of competition across our 16 clubs that is almost unheard of in an elite competition, with every one of the current AFL clubs having made a preliminary final at least once since the 1998 season," Anderson said.
 
"This has been achieved with the agreement of our player group and it is also extremely important that we continue to provide the best opportunities for a player to be able to move clubs to further his career if those opportunities are available at another club."

Anderson said additional changes made via the trade period would provide greater opportunities for players to switch clubs in the off-season. 
 
"The removal of the cap on players that can be traded by a club - or can be involved in a single trade - is hoped to provide opportunities for players to pursue positions at other clubs, while clubs also now have the opportunity to draft mature age rookies who may have been on a list before, provided they have not played a senior game," Anderson said.

"We hope this will provide a second-chance for some players who are late developers.
 
"A player must also now be contracted by his club by October 31, if that club wishes to retain him. If the player is not contracted by October 31, he has the option to delist himself and enter the national draft and/or the pre-season draft. This increases the options available to players who cannot reach agreement with their clubs.
 
"Previously, a player was prevented from entering the national draft if he was still listed by his Club, but out of contract … This meant that players were not able to to enter the National Draft and secure a position with clubs before the pre-season draft, where fewer selections are available," Anderson said.
 
The change to the player drafting age, which will come into play in 2009 season, was designed to ensure more players had completed their secondary studies prior to being listed AFL players, allowed teenagers to mature further before joining an AFL club, and also allowed clubs a more accurate assessment of a player's ability and potential.
 
The AFL and AFLPA have agreed to further examine the concept of free agency and the veterans' list. The two parties are aiming for an agreement by December 21, 2008.

According to Anderson: "The AFL and the AFLPA have discussed the issue of free agency at length and the parties could not agree on a model of 'free agency' submitted by the AFLPA. As such, the AFL and the AFLPA will continue to meet on this issue."
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