WAFL presidents bump reserves push
West Coast and Fremantle will play scratch matches against two WAFL clubs next month to test an AFL reserves model proposed for 2013.
The Eagles play Perth on Friday, March 2, while the Dockers take on South Fremantle a week later.
But the prospect of a permanent arrangement next year has diminished after a WAFL working party rejected a compensation offer from the two AFL clubs, describing it as a “pittance”.
Club presidents Haydn Raitt (South Fremantle), Brett Raponi (West Perth) and Peter Harvey (Swan Districts) asked Fremantle and West Coast for an annual licence fee of $1.35 million – $150,000 per WAFL club.
In return, the WAFL clubs would have used their byes to play weekly scratch matches against West Coast and Fremantle teams.
But the two AFL clubs responded with a counter offer of $40,000 for each WAFL club – spread over three years – with an additional sum being sought from the AFL to assist improving facilities.
That offer is virtually identical to the $120,000 total annual payment offered to the WAFL clubs last year before the WA Football Commission rejected the proposal to introduce AFL reserves teams.
“There is no guarantee the WAFL clubs will accept the bye model anyway but there is certainly no interest with this pittance on offer,” Raitt said. “The AFL clubs claim they can’t afford any more, but we don’t accept that. They can throw a coach out a year short of his contract and pay him out and pay massive salaries to other people walking around the club.
“We are happy to play these scratch matches before the season starts so that the Eagles and Dockers get some idea how it might work, but the money is a real sticking point.”
WA football director Grant Dorrington recognised that the level of compensation for WAFL clubs remained the most critical element in the issue.
Raitt said WAFL clubs accepted they might have to lose their AFL players but were willing to do so in the best interests of the Eagles and Dockers. But he was adamant that the clubs would not compromise the integrity of the competition.
He demanded fair compensation for developing AFL players.
“We are good developers of talent, but we acknowledge that the AFL clubs are good finishers of talent,” Raitt said.
“If West Coast said to us (South Fremantle) that Ashton Hams would no longer play for us, we would accept that and understand why they are doing it.
“He is a West Coast player and we support their decision to prepare him in the way they consider best for him and the club.”