A strident Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has predictably railed against the Sydney Swans' cost of living allowance the day after it was revealed that free agent Lance Franklin would join the Swans on a multimillion-dollar contract.
But Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon, who joined McGuire on an AFL equalisation trip to America this year, has used the furore created by Franklin's shock recruitment to push for revenue sharing arrangements, saying Sydney's nine-year, $10 million offer was a “wake-up call” to the competition.
Buddy Franklin heading for the Swans
The GWS Giants have withdrawn their bid for Lance Franklin with the knowledge he will accept an offer from the Sydney Swans.
“If the AFL move to introduce revenue sharing as they should then every club in the competition ought to be able to plan a sensible football department and salary cap spend that will enable them to compete,” Gordon told SEN on Wednesday morning.
“And that gives teams like mine a once in a generation, an historic, opportunity to plan and compete professionally like we never have done before.”
Also on Wednesday morning, Carlton coach Mick Malthouse continued his criticism of the concessions after having a crack at the AFL during the Blues' best-and-fairest function on Tuesday night.
"It’s so insular in the AFL that when they need something to happen, the rules change," Malthouse told 3AW on Tuesday.
"Now they’ve created a monster. Frankenstein is up and running, and now it’s hard to stop because these rules are being exploited to the absolute nth degree by a very clever Sydney - a very, very clever Sydney - and I take my hat off to how good they are."
On his Triple M Hot Breakfast program on Wednesday morning, Collingwood president McGuire labelled Swans' cost-of-living allowance a “rort”.
"This is feathering the bed for down the track for when the inevitable crash comes. They have been fantastic, the Sydney Swans, in defying gravity, but they've been given a lot of help along the way.
"That's the problem with the Sydney Swans - they think they're like a Lehman Brothers, they're like the big banks so they just go in there and just give it to everybody.
"It's a disgrace and it's absolutely heartbreaking for every football fan and it's time for the AFL to jump in and jump in in a big way."
Gordon agreed that there is not “sufficient rational basis” to retain the allowance.
“I know that most of us on that trip came back with the view that if it ever had any relevance it's had its day and ought to be gone.”
But he emphasised his support for a measure to replace the controversial rule, saying he was excited by the prospect of the AFL making meaningful revenue sharing arrangements that could help struggling clubs.
“All of the best models of revenue sharing that we looked at over in [the US] suggest that every club needs to have the confidence, the ability to move forward and plan their list and their salary cap knowing that they can spend 100 per cent, not just this year not just next year but every year," Gordon said.
“From my point of view the AFL's best response to this would include committing to each of the 18 clubs that each club will be resourced to pay the full salary cap going forward.
"I think that everyone understands that that's the way you get to a more even competition and you get closer to the "any given Sunday" principle where any two teams going forward in a game of footy, you just can't predict the result, and that's the sort of competition we want to aspire to.
"So the future is exciting … In many ways what Sydney has done is given a wake-up call to the rest of us that this is the new … competitive environment and we all need to get across it. But we need to be armed to be competitive."
McGuire said the support that the AFL has given northern state teams had come at the expense of Melbourne clubs.
"Our expansion plans have been great into the northern states and we're all supportive of it, but it has skewered the competition now to a point where there are a number of clubs that have no chance of winning a premiership in the next 10 years," McGuire said.
Gordon believes that resourcing salary caps would ensure AFL equalisation, and give current stragglers a chance at success.
“There's a concept that I think we all need to get more used to called fan equity. And it's the idea that whether you're a Giants supporter or a Demons supporter you have a legitimate expectation of seeing your team in the finals some time over the next few years.”
McGuire said that while the expansion of the code was important, so was protecting its heartland by supporting teams like the Bulldogs.
"I believe that the Western Bulldogs are more important, to be perfectly honest, than Greater Western Sydney.
"We have to keep the heartland here in Melbourne absolutely thriving and the Bulldogs play a magnificent part of that and that's why not just Collingwood but Hawthorn and the big clubs say we're happy for the Bulldogs to get extra money to keep alive because they play a significant role in the fabric of this great game."
McGuire said even Collingwood, "the richest club in Australia", did not consider recruiting Franklin because "in the context of the salary cap and the way it is meant to work, you've got no chance of doing these things unless you've got an artificial advantage".
McGuire said he felt for Hawthorn fans who just a few days ago were basking in the glow of a premiership, and were now digesting the revelation from Swans administrator Andrew Ireland that Franklin's management had made contact with the Swans after the Hawks grand final loss last year.
"That would break your heart if you thought you'd been feeding that bloke for 12 months while he was plotting to do that to you," McGuire said.
"I know it's free agency and all of the rest of it and they've got managers and people who are able to strategise their futures but there is emotion in football that goes a bit beyond that.
"It's a tough one to grip and one that is disappointing for Hawks fans. They should be celebrating this week and not have a care in the world and to have this just really leaves a taste in your mouth and I really feel for [Hawks president] Andrew Newbold and all the Hawks fans out there who deserve to enjoy their win."
Kevin Bartlett said on his SEN morning show that the chorus of complaints had a ring of hypocrisy about it considering no club or official seemed to mind when Franklin had been pencilled in to the Greater Western Sydney ranks.
"Now that the Hawks star has detoured 30 kilometres to the Sydney Swans the whingeing and moaning is deafening," Bartlett said.
"Buddy makes Sydney an even more powerful club, one that can win the flag in 2014... Now the cost of living allowance available to the Sydney Swans has raised its ugly head. Sydney are going to dump players – good players – to get their man.
"Sydney are deal-makers and while you may not want to cheer the red and the white you've got to respect them."