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AFL free agency: how it works

Date

Jon Pierik and Jared Lynch

Free agency period: October 1-19 (trade and draft period runs to December 11)

WHAT IS FREE AGENCY:

* A player has served seven seasons or fewer of AFL football at one club, and is now out of contract.


The player is not eligible for free agency if his club wishes to retain him. He may only move clubs via a trade or the draft. If he delists himself, he is subject to the draft, and may be selected by any club.
A player has served seven seasons or fewer of AFL football at one club, and has been delisted by his club.

The player is a free agent and is eligible to field offers from all rival AFL clubs.

The player must decide on the best offer of his choice from one rival club.

The player can move automatically to the new club of his choice.

His original club, which chose to delist him, does not receive any compensation pick for the loss of the player.


* A player has served eight or more seasons of AFL football at one club, is one of the top 25 per cent highest-paid players at his club, and is now out of contract for the first time since reaching eight seasons of service. (restricted free agent):

The player is eligible to field offers from all rival AFL clubs.
If he wishes to change clubs, the player must decide on the best offer of his choice from one rival club.

His club has the right to match the presented offer.

If the club matches the offer, he may choose to remain with his original club, seek a trade or enter the draft.

If the club does not or can not match the offer, the player can move to the new club of his choice.
His original club will receive a compensation pick for the loss of the player, on an AFL-determined formula to apply where clubs lose more free agents than they gain in any single transfer period.

* A player has served eight or more seasons of AFL football at one club, is not one of the top 25 per cent highest-paid players at his club, and is now out of contract for the first time since reaching eight seasons of service. (unrestricted free agent)

The player is eligible to field offers from all rival AFL clubs.

If he wishes to change clubs, the player must decide on the best offer of his choice from one rival club.

His club does not have the right to match the presented offer, and the player can move automatically to the new club of his choice.

His original club will receive a compensation pick for the loss of the player, on an AFL-determined formula to apply where clubs lose more free agents than they gain in any single transfer period.

* A player has served ten or more seasons of AFL football at one club, has already come out of contract once in the period after serving his first eight or more seasons at his club, and is now out of contract. (Unrestricted free agent)

The player is eligible to field offers from all rival clubs.

If he wishes to change clubs, the player must decide on the best offer of his choice from one rival club.

His club does not have the right to match the presented offer, and the player can move automatically to the new club of his choice.

His original club will receive a compensation pick for the loss of the player, on an AFL-determined formula to apply where clubs lose more free agents than they gain in any single transfer period.


MATCHING OFFERS:

* In general terms, a contract offer is matched if the football payments and ASAs (additional services agreements) are equivalent under the offer and the contract proposed of his current Club.

* In order to qualify as a matching offer, the player’s existing club must make an offer on the same terms as the new offer tabled by the player in respect of the following matters: 1) contract length; 2) base payments; 3) total match payments; 4) total ASA payments; 5) total performance incentives based on AFL awards or honours, club best-and-fairest finish or games played (not including finals). Any incentives for team performance are not required to be matched. A player may not table an offer to be matched for less than a two-year contract length.

* For salary cap purposes, actual payments made to players by either club (being new or existing) may be allocated evenly over the contract length. For example, if a player is offered a three-year deal for base payments of $400,000, $100,000 and $100,000, and ASA payments of $40,000, $10,000, $10,000, the club that matches these payments may allocate $200,000 per year under the TPP limit and $20,000 per year under the ASA limit.

* If a club has elected to allocate payments evenly over the contract length and the contract to be matched contains an asymmetrical bonus or match payment structure, actual non-guaranteed payments made shall be allocated evenly over the remainder of the contract length. For example, if a player is offered a three-year deal with $10,000 match payments in year one, but zero match payments in years two and three, any match payments paid to the player in year one may be allocated evenly across all three years of the contract for salary cap purposes.


COMPENSATION

* Clubs can ask for an indication of their draft compensation before they decide to match a rival club’s offer. But the AFL has said clubs will not get a definitive answer on the draft pick they would receive until the offer from a rival club was official.

* The formula for compensation is based on the size and length of the contract and the age of the player. For instance, Brendon Goddard would almost certainly deliver a first-round pick.
However, there are various permutations. Clubs that lose a player to free agency but gain a player could receive less, depending on the value of the player they recruit. For instance, if St Kilda lost Goddard, but gained another player of less quality, the compensation would be based on the difference between the players, meaning the Saints may only receive a third-round pick plus their new player. If the player gained is judged to be at the same level to the one lost, the relevant club would receive nothing.

* The AFL will use five bands of draft selections to determine compensation. These are first round, end of first round, second round, end of second round and third round.

* Unlike expansion laws, clubs cannot ‘‘bank’’ their free-agency compensation picks. This means they will have to used or traded in the same year and cannot be stored and used when a club expects itself to finish lower on the ladder.

* Restricted free agents will fill in a ‘‘form 41’’ detailing a rival club’s official offer in terms of base payments, senior match payments and additional service agreement (ASA) payments. Unrestricted free agents will fill in a ‘‘form 42’’.

* The current player’s club will have three days to match a rival offer.

* Contracts must be lodged within seven days of the club receiving notice from the AFL.

* There will be no compensation for delisted players

CLUBS HAVE BEEN WARNED COMPENSATION IS:

* Not designed to fully compensate a club for the loss of a player

* Designed to reflect the relative values of various players to one another

* Not designed to make concession for the ladder position of a club losing a player, but standardise compensation across five categories of picks.


If you thought footy was over, think again:

October 1: AFL restricted free agency offer and unrestricted free agency period begins.
October 5, 2pm: Nomination of father-son eligible players and academy bidding players.
October 8, 10am: Father-son eligible players and academy players bid meeting.
October 8: AFL trade period begins.
October 19, 2pm: Deadline for GWS Giants to pre-list balance of any uncontracted players under list establishment rules.
October 19, 5pm: Restricted free agency offer and unrestricted free agency period closes.
October 22: Restricted free agency matching offer response closes.
October 23, 5pm: Trade incentive rule (17-year-olds) deadline for trading.
October 26, 2pm: AFL trade period ends.
October 26, 2.10pm: Trade incentive (17-year-olds) selection.
October 31, 2pm: List lodgement one.
November 1: Delisted player free-agency period begins.
November 13, 2pm: AFL delisted player free agency period ends.
November 13, 2pm: Out-of-contract listed player draft nomination deadline. New player draft nomination deadline.
November 13, 2pm: Deadline for nomination of any use of 2012 GWS Giants compensation selections.
November 15, 2pm: List lodgement two.
November 16, 2pm: Delisted player draft nomination deadline, non-retained rookies draft nomination deadline, nominated of Queensland zone priority selections and nomination of NSW/ACT zone priority selections.
November 22: AFL draft, Gold Coast Convention Centre.
November 23: Second AFL delisted player free agency period begins.
November 28, 2pm: Out-of-contract listed players nomination deadline, international players nomination deadline, players not registered/played three years deadline, NSW scholarship and international scholarship players deadline.
November 28, 5pm: Second AFL delisted player free agency period ends.
November 29, 2pm: List lodgement three.
November 30: Third delisted player free agency period begins
December 4, 5pm: Delisted player nomination deadline.
December 4: Deadline for GWS Giants to pre-list balance of any previously listed or previously nominated for draft players under list establishment rules.
December 11, 11am: AFL pre-season draft.
December 11, 11.05am: Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns, GWS Giants and Sydney Swans Eligible pre-selected rookies.
December 11, 11.10am: AFL rookie draft

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