Freo, Eagles push for own WAFL teams
West Coast and Fremantle will make a joint submission to the WA Football Commission by the end of this month outlining why they should have stand-alone teams in the WAFL as early as next year.
Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett confirmed last night he and Dockers counterpart Steve Rosich were heading a working party compiling the bid, which he said had been requested by the WAFC.
And in a further push, the AFL Players’ Association will make a separate submission at the same time to the WAFC strongly supporting the position of WA’s AFL clubs. It is expected to be finalised later this week.
AFLPA player relations manager Ian Prendergast told The West Australian last night the concept was “ideal” and reflected how players felt about their development amid significant recent changes in the game’s professionalism at the elite level.
The bid, canvassed in The West Australian in March last year, came as Melbourne vented anger at a decision by their VFL affiliate, Casey Scorpions, to offer sacked Brisbane forward Brendan Fevola a football lifeline.
Nisbett said decisions such as the Fevola recruitment were the reality AFL clubs without a dedicated second-tier team were forced to face. Significant in the bid by the Eagles and Dockers is the fact that three of the past four AFL premierships have been won by Geelong and Collingwood, who both have stand-alone VFL teams.
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said yesterday the game’s governing body would leave it to the WAFC and WAFL clubs to decide on any submission by either West Coast or Fremantle to request a second-tier team.
“This is entirely a matter for the WAFC, the two clubs and the WA State league clubs,” Demetriou said. “We will have no role in that discussion and it’s for WA football to decide what will occur.”
It is understood the concept could be considered as part of the AFLPA’s discussions with the AFL for a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires in October.
The idea has been met in the past with stiff opposition from the WAFL clubs. At least five of the nine clubs need to agree to the bid for it to be successful.
Nisbett said West Coast and Fremantle were “on the same page” on the issue.
“The bottom line is, we’ll put a proposal up and the commission and the WAFL will have to look at it,” Nisbett said.
“We want to put in a submission that’s for the benefit of the WAFL as well as for the benefit of the players. It’s not as if the system has been a disaster because the WAFL clubs have been pretty good to our guys.
“But everything changes and there’s got to be some good with managing your own team.
“We need to make every decision in the best interest of our club and sometimes another club can make a decision that we don’t think is in our best interests.
“It’s a difficult position to be in and there could be a better system. What we’re trying to do is have full control over the players we draft and pump in hundreds of thousands of dollars into their development.”
Melbourne and Casey are on a collision course over Fevola, who this week reached a confidential settlement with the Lions, believed to be nearly $1 million.
Demons chief executive Cameron Schwab conceded the Scorpions had the right to act independently, but hinted their big AFL brother would lean on them heavily to put the future of their young players ahead of Fevola.
Three of Melbourne’s first four 2010 draftees – Lucas Cook, Jeremy Howe and Tom McDonald – are all tall forwards who will be developed this year through Casey.
Schwab admitted the issue had caused an unwanted distraction ahead of the AFL season proper but was adamant Melbourne would control the development of their young stars at Casey.
“We have a significant say over that,” Schwab said on Melbourne radio. “I suppose that’s where this issue has challenged all of us.
“We can understand why the Scorpions would like Brendan Fevola playing for them. But at the same time, we’ve drafted four or five terrific young talents who are going to play full-forward, half-forward, centre half-forward and we hope they’ll be doing that in AFL football in the shortest possible time.
“That’s the priority that we have as a club and our relationship with the Scorpions is very much about the development of our players.”