A waiting game: Lance Franklin at training on Tuesday. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Hawthorn has removed its contract offer to Lance Franklin from the negotiating table and begun to envisage a future without its champion forward.
Fairfax Media understands the most recent offer to Franklin was removed at the end of July after the player failed to respond to a club-imposed deadline. While Hawthorn holds some hope that Franklin will stay, any potential deal could be reduced from that withdrawn some seven weeks ago.
Being Buddy Franklin
Rivals, now teammates? Alongside Swan opponent Ted Richards. Photo: Anthony Johnson
With Greater Western Sydney claiming it has been equally frustrated by Franklin's refusal to make a decision until the end of the season, neither club appears any wiser regarding Franklin's plans. The Giants are pushing Franklin's management for an answer as it sizes up a number of targets, including Dustin Martin and Sam Fisher.
The 26-year-old's manager, Liam Pickering, who also acts for Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson, has assured all parties that he has no clue regarding his star client's future, although Pickering said recently that he was ''very confident'' Franklin would remain at Hawthorn. The Hawks' decision to withdraw its offer to Franklin came after a number of warnings to the Franklin camp that the July 31 deadline was approaching. An offer to Franklin had been on the table for 18 months with the original three-year deal with a contingent fourth year increased to four years plus one.
Hawthorn chief executive Stuart Fox refused to be drawn on contract talk except to reiterate: ''The situation is status quo. We've respected Lance's wishes and we will continue to do so.''
The Hawks modus operandi was that they needed to begin planning their list beyond 2013. Should Franklin depart, the million-dollar space in the club's salary cap would free the Hawks to make more competitive offers to - among others - Swans' ruckman Shane Mumford and, potentially, out-of-contract Magpie Dale Thomas.
With captain Luke Hodge, Cyril Rioli, Sam Mitchell and Jarryd Roughead all having re-signed this year the club has more recently re-committed a long list of players including Ryan Schoenmakers, Luke Breust, Liam Shiels, Paul Puopolo, Isaac Smith and Taylor Duryea.
Club president Andrew Newbold said early in the season: ''You can't leave it until after the season, because from a recruiting point of view, it's just impractical … It can be towards the end of the season, but it won't be able to be after the season.'' he said.
''If he is going to leave, he needs to be thinking about where he is going. He just can't leave that until after the season. There are practicalities attached to it. We will talk to his manager about that, about what needs to be tweaked and what doesn't. We will be going to him some time during the year with another offer saying 'mate, there it is, we need to know'.''
Although Newbold was overseas and unavailable for comment on Tuesday, the club appears to have held firm to that view and withdrawn the revised offer one month before the finals. With Franklin returning to the side for Hawthorn's Friday night preliminary final against Geelong and the Hawks' flag favourites, the club had hoped the contract withdrawal would remain in-house.
GWS' five-year offer was reportedly increased to six years, although the Giants have refused to speculate publicly on a deal reportedly worth about $1.3 million annually before third-party agreements.