Being Buddy Franklin
Rivals, now teammates? Alongside Swan opponent Ted Richards. Photo: Anthony Johnson
HAWTHORN will look to continue contract negotiations with Lance Franklin despite the superstar forward putting talks on hold until the end of the season.
Franklin, 26, is off contract this season and will be a restricted free agent. This means the Hawks can choose to match any offer from rival clubs.
Hawks star Buddy Franklin. Photo: Paul Rovere
The Hawks have offered Franklin a long-term deal of up to $1 million a season but the brilliant forward does not want to be distracted by discussions through the season. However, this suggests he is keen to test the open market.
Franklin’s manager Liam Pickering had opened discussions last year but Franklin has told him to cease negotiations.
The Hawks’ face a salary-cap squeeze, with the likes of captain Luke Hodge and champion midfielder Sam Mitchell also off contract this season. That pair will be unrestricted free agents.
Hawks’ chief executive Stuart Fox took to the club’s website on Saturday in a bid to alleviate supporter concerns over Franklin.
Buddy Franklin to the Fremantle Dockers for a 5 year deal worth $1.3M a season. #prediction— Ryan Gregson (@RyanGregson25) February 2, 2013
"The club has been in discussions with Lance and his manager for a number of months, and has presented Lance with a very strong offer," he said.
"Lance has indicated he would like to delay discussion on his contract to the end of the 2013 season.
"The club accepts Lance is within his rights to proceed this way and we will continue to work towards retaining him within the structure of our talented playing list by keeping an open dialogue with Lance and his manager.
"Both the club and its members must be prepared to acknowledge this situation is part of a new football landscape under free agency."
In November, Liam Pickering assured fans Franklin would stay with Hawthorn.
Hawthorn fans must fear Franklin’s situation could destabilise their campaign and become an unwanted distraction, as was the case at Collingwood last year when Travis Cloke’s negotiations dragged on.
"Hawthorn Football Club members and supporters can be assured the club manages all player contract renegotiations professionally and with the intention of minimising distractions for the Club, players, coaching staff and you – our valued members and supporters," Fox said.
"We can appreciate that Hawthorn members are invested and interested in the club’s progress with Lance’s contract and you can be guaranteed Hawthorn Football Club’s focus is to retain him."
Fremantle could be a possible new home for Franklin as the Dockers last year offered Cloke more than $1 million a season. The Dockers are after a key forward and Franklin is from Western Australia.
Several clubs are now expected to discuss whether they could make a play for him.
Pickering also manages Gary Ablett, who put contract talks on hold at Geelong in 2010. He would accept the riches on offer with the Gold Coast Suns.