Rugby League

Trade window on eve of AFL season?

The AFL has raised the idea of introducing a pre-season trading period, which would take place just before the season.

The floating of pre-season trading – in which the deadline would be after the pre-season JLT practice matches – comes as the AFL finds limited support for mid-season trading next year, which is now considered unlikely for 2020.

Under a proposal that was floated by the league to club chief executives and the competition committee, there would be a pre-season period with close to the same deadline as the supplementary-list system that Richmond used to pick up overlooked young gun Sydney Stack, in March, after the pre-season games, before round one.

The rules, as proposed by the AFL’s executive specialising in player movement, Josh Vanderloo, would be the same as the October trading period, but there would be no trading of first and second-year players allowed.

The AFL is open to having pre-season trading as soon as next year, although the league would have to move quickly to get sufficient support from clubs and players, with the AFL Players’ Association harbouring reservations about the push for trading outside of the traditional October trading period, which also encompasses free agency.

This pre-season trading concept was discussed at a player agents’ conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, when AFLPA officials outlined what the AFL had proposed and revealed that a mid-season trading period was unlikely in 2020.

Keen to create further opportunities for player movement, the AFL looked first at mid-season trading, before suggesting the pre-season trading window. There was majority opposition to the mid-season trading at the player agents’ conference. The AFL believes there was more support for pre-season trading at both the CEOs meeting and at the competition committee.

The AFL is mindful of the enormous interest generated when players move clubs – web traffic is enormous in the major media outlets and on the AFL’s website during the trading period – and has clearly been keen to open this up further, as happens in American sports.

The AFL has already introduced the mid-season draft, in which a number of state league players from across the country were picked.

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