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Chris Scott says 'distasteful' free agency should be scrapped

Ditch it: Chris Scott says the free agency process is ''distasteful'', and should be scrapped.

Ditch it: Chris Scott says the free agency process is ''distasteful'', and should be scrapped. Photo: Pat Scala

Chris Scott has responded to speculation that Geelong is in the running to land Demon James Frawley by describing free agency as a ''distasteful'' process that is detrimental to loyalty and one he would like to see scrapped.

''I don't think there are many people – maybe other than some of the players – that like free agency,'' the Cats coach said on Tuesday. ''I think all this is a little bit distasteful, and I think it's a bit disrespectful to the individuals involved. I understand you're entitled to ask the question, but out of respect for the individual players we're not going to engage in any more comment about it.''

Asked how he would combat the sort of frenzy that has seen Frawley touted as an $800,000 a season prospect in search of a seven-year deal on football's open market, and linked to more than half the clubs in the competition, Scott said: ''The easiest solution is to abolish free agency.''

While Geelong has had preliminary talks with Frawley's management, Scott was damning of a system – now in its third year – which he said clearly is welcomed by the media and perhaps by the AFL, but not by the Cats.

''I think right at the moment the AFL is working really hard with the clubs and with all the stakeholders to equalise the competition and give everyone a fair chance, and I think free agency flies squarely in the face of that,'' Scott said. ''Unfortunately we've been dragged into a specific situation here, but we don't want to inflame it any more than it has been, and purely that's out of respect for the individuals involved.''

Asked what he made of former Demon great Garry Lyon's contention that his old club should make a move on Steven Motlop, Scott said the Cats were as well versed as any on the realities of the modern climate – not just in relation to player movement.

''This is something we got our head around a long time ago. Garry might have been in hibernation for the last four or five years, but Geelong's been attacked pretty hard – not just at a player level, but with its coaches, with its administrators, with a chef at one point. This is the era that we live in.

''There's been a move to promote more player movement and probably more staff movement across clubs. We don't need to speculate on a hypothetical with Motlop because we've lived through it with [Gary] Ablett, we've lived through it with [Harry] Taylor, we've lived through it with [chief executive] Brian Cook and [football manager] Neil Balme and [assistant coach] Steve Hocking and [recruiter] Stephen Wells. 

''We aren't in favour of it, but we understand that's the reality. We're trying to take a mature approach to it and move on.''

Scott conceded that the free agency mechanism was ''a lot more complex than I'm making out, but just from my simplistic view of it, I think that without free agency we would have more loyalty, and it would make it more difficult for players to cherry pick the clubs they would like to play with.

''We're probably underrating a few really good players across the competition – I think history shows that most really good players, given a choice, would play at one club for their whole career.''

34 comments so far

  • Couldn't agree with him more. Having to go through a whole season where a player, coach, team mate, etc. are constantly asked if the person is staying with the club is a continual distraction.

    Commenter
    Catherine
    Date and time
    July 29, 2014, 1:20PM
    • It has tainted the game beyond belief. Demitriou has left the game in a poor state and you haven't even got me going about TV rights versus spectator/fans rights. Well done Chris.

      Commenter
      BBJ
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 5:24PM
    • Free agency is but one example of how our great game has become less great in the last 10-15 years or so. The loyalty of players to their club has largely vanished, as many players just think about lining their own pockets, and looking after their own interests.

      People I know now commonly talk about how greed is wrecking the game, and it's not just the players that are responsible, time to put an end to it!

      Commenter
      MarkF
      Location
      Colac
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 6:10PM
  • All unrestricted free agents have a choice to stay at their club.

    All restricted free agents have the same choice as well.

    Some just choose the money.

    Commenter
    Barney
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 29, 2014, 1:34PM
    • Or ... some might just choose to leave poorly-run/impoverished/out-of-contention/too-difficult-to-break-into-the-team Clubs. Seems a bit simplistic to suggest it's just about money.

      Commenter
      LesChat
      Location
      Kensington
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 4:03PM
  • Hear, hear Chris. Your comment about free agency flying in the face of equalization is spot on. How can the clubs towards the bottom of the ladder realistically have a chance of climbing the ladder when their best players become free agents and take off? True you receive a compensation draft pick but that it is gamble in itself depending on who you draft. They spend years putting resources into a player only to see them take off as a free agent. You won't often see a free agent form a club higher the ladder leave for one lower down.

    Commenter
    Hear-Hear
    Date and time
    July 29, 2014, 2:35PM
    • Gary Ablett.

      It's more often than you think.

      Commenter
      Mike
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 2:41PM
    • Seriously, the definition of restricted and unrestricted free agency is that the player has been at the club for many years. The player has paid back that investment.

      quote.
      A restricted free agent is a player who 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.
      Unrestricted free agents are players who have been delisted by their club, played more than ten seasons at one AFL club or has played eight or more seasons at one club and is not one of the top 25 per cent highest-paid players at his club.

      Commenter
      Mike
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      July 29, 2014, 2:47PM
    • That would be why Mumford left Sydney (2013 top 4) to go to GWS (2013 wooden spoon) under free agency. I think that move proves that free agency works to equalise the competition and that Chris Scott is purely looking after his own nest. How many free agents at Geelong next year? Can't wait to see how he treats any player that doesn't re-sign before the end of the year.

      Commenter
      Big Sound
      Location
      west of the town
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 8:27AM
  • Well he would say that wouldn't he.
    But there's nothing stopping him or members of his club from doing exactly the same thing.
    And I bet he or his club would do the same if opportunity presented regardless of his protestation.
    I frankly think its a control freak thing to say.
    They'd be happy just stitching up the players to meet their own needs.
    Clubs draft players who probably don't have much of a choice (of the club they want).
    Clubs and coaches can't have it both ways.
    Certain clubs (not just his) won't be happy unless they have all the best players payed relatively bargain prices, locked in.
    A worrying trend!

    Commenter
    Mike
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    July 29, 2014, 2:37PM

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