AFL

Gillon McLachlan: Four clubs will learn their 'top-up' fate this week

As the Essendon 34 continue to weigh up their next move, the four rival clubs affected by the supplements saga were told they will know by Friday whether they can access senior top-up talent.

The Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Melbourne are all seeking change to the AFL's original call allowing them to replace their suspended Essendon players only with an elevated rookie.

The  four are keen on securing top-up talent as the Bombers have done, while it's believed the Demons would rather be able to have the ability to use a player on their rookie list, rather than one on the primary list.

Club submissions closed on Tuesday, with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan revealing a final call would be made by Friday.

"Andrew Dillon [AFL general counsel] is having a look at that at the moment," McLachlan said.

"[The clubs' submissions are] due 5pm today ...  he'll consider those, obviously then he'll make his own decision about what's right. I imagine it'll be done by the end of this week."

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The Power want to replace Angus Monfries and Patrick Ryder, the Saints will be without Jake Carlisle and the Western Bulldogs have lost Stewart Crameri from their AFL side, and Brent Prismall from their VFL side. The Demons have lost Jake Melksham.

Many in the  industry have questioned why the Bombers were allowed to sign top-up talent, with former Demon Mark Jamar the latest on Tuesday, while those clubs who recruited former Bombers were not.

The 34 players remain fractured in their stance over how best to seek compensation from the Bombers, with debate continuing between launching class or independent action which could cost the club more than $30 million.

Players have sought advice from the AFL Players Association, their managers and independent counsel, while there is still the possibility the players could appeal their year-long ban from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

It's understood lawyer Chris Pollard has also been engaged by some players. Pollard was formerly the lawyer for the AFL Coaches Association, and led Dean Bailey's fight against the AFL in 2013 when he was accused of helping the Demons tank.

Player agent Peter Jess, already with Nathan Lovett-Murray on board, could have another five players added to his stable, with their compensation claim to be led by barrister Tony Nolan, QC. It's understood Dyson Heppell is also weighing up whether to turn to Nolan.

Some insiders  believe the best outcome would be a suggestion by former AFL Commissioner Bill Kelty to establish an ongoing welfare fund. This would involve the AFL, the players association and Essendon working together.

 McLachlan told the pre-season competition launch at Unley Oval, an inner Adelaide suburb,  he was confident the Bombers' drama would not hijack the pre-season.

"There are challenges every year. I think people are able to deal with that Essendon issue and compartmentalise it," he said.

McLachlan defended the NAB Challenge, which has not had a grand final in recent years and essentially is a series of practice matches.

Magpies president Eddie McGuire has called for a revamp, including giving the pre-season winner an automatic berth in an expanded regular-season finals format.

But  McLachlan said: "It is simply not [the same competition], in the same way Twenty20 is different to 50-over cricket, which is different to Test matches..

"You can't escape the fact this is a pre-season competition where clubs and players are preparing their lists and players for the home-and-away season. It  is just as exciting for different reasons."

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