Illustration: Mick Connolly.

Illustration: Mick Connolly.

The Demons have wasted no time in speaking to Paul Roos about whether he might coach them. The Brisbane Lions must do the same, assuming they haven't already communicated an interest by some covert channel. They need Roos more than the Dees do.

The Lions are more of a problem for the AFL than the dismal Dees, who, after all, are merely one of 10 teams in the Victorian market. There will always be at least one terrible team down here.

Granted, Brisbane hasn't demonstrated Melbourne's level of sustained hopelessness lately. But it has been consistently mediocre on the field since 2004, having played finals just once since the magnificent ''Lethal Lions'' limped to a grand final loss nearly nine years ago. Even the Dees have played in two finals series over that period.

Roos would restore relevance to the Lions. He has the kind of credibility and command that Leigh Matthews brought to Brisbane in 1999. He can bring hope, respect and - not least - some players. He's also a favourite son of old Fitzroy, the former club notionally represented by the Lions.

The AFL, should it enter the dubious business of influencing coaching appointments (having effectively funded a sacking last week), would receive a better bang for its buck by assisting Brisbane in landing Roos than funding any mega-contract the Demons dangle. That's assuming Roos is willing to coach again, which isn't established.

The door appears slightly ajar for Roos to return to coaching. The Brisbane board must knock it down.

In a period of expansion, it makes no sense to have Gold Coast cranking up and Brisbane - which represents a far larger and strategically important market - remaining irrelevant.

If Sydney had played finals once in nine years, we would be speaking of a crisis for the code, with the AFL either called in to run the Swans or facilitating sending another Tony Lockett or Gary Ablett there. Yet, the Lions are allowed to languish, in their own off-Broadway show, without the salary cap/recruiting allowances of the other northern outpost teams.

They've been a victim of expansion, in that they've bottomed out just as the new teams were entering the competition. Instead of receiving genuine top-five picks, they've been pushed back, in real terms, to double-figure selections once the expansion concessions are included (such as 17-year-olds). There wasn't any Jeremy Cameron or Jaegar O'Meara walking in. No father sons such as Joey Daniher, Marc Murphy having spurned the Fitzroy connection, preferring Carlton on the bottom to the Lions in 2005.

They lost Michael Rischitelli and Jared Brennan to the Suns and, worse, had Mitch Clark leave to ''go home'' to Perth, only to decide that home was where the dollars lived. Clark earned them only pick 12 - tantamount to pick 25 in a draft eviscerated by new teams. His value has proven far higher.

While these are circumstances that conspired against the Lions, it's also undeniable that many, if not most, of the severe hemorrhaging has been self-inflicted. The Brendan Fevola trade is exhibit A in the club's clangers, having cost the Lions picks, players, money and sleep. Arguably, the club is yet to recover from Michael Voss' fatal miscalculation at the end of 2009, when he figured his team was within reach of a premiership and imported a bunch of what might politely be called ''journeymen''.

If the Lions are keen to get Roos, as one would expect, Voss could well find himself in a similar boat to Brett Ratten, who would likely been retained if not for the presence of an Alpha coach in the marketplace. The Blues don't hire unproven assistants.

Mick Malthouse told the media he did not want to dance on Ratten's grave when the Carlton question was posed during the then coach's final season. Roos might feel similarly about Voss, whose Mount Rushmore stature at that club and in the game warrants some respectful restraint.

But the Lions have put the Voss decision on hold until season's end - and one could argue that their season's end is really when they can't play finals, which, truthfully, is anytime soon.

Roos is thick with Alastair Lynch, who obviously remains in the Lion loop and has been in business with Voss. Lynch's player management duties might make him out of bounds to be on the club board, but he would be a useful go-between for the parties. Voss can hardly be offended if his club sounds out Roos anyway. How would the Lions look if Roos opted to coach Melbourne?

The Lions will soon lose Jonathan Brown, their faded marquee name, and Simon Black. They have been fortunate that the NRL has not yet put a second team in Brisbane, though the Broncos are formidable enough. The Queensland Reds have made further inroads on their market share, as has the Brisbane Roar.

Buddy Franklin doesn't shape as a feasible recruit for the Lions, given the expected bullion available at Greater Western Sydney. The Lions have excellent young talent, yes, but they're far behind Richmond and Essendon - which haven't had a Fevola fiasco - much less the Suns, who will be frightening in a couple of seasons.

It would be a historic irony if the Lions turned to a former Royboy to resurrect them, the club having taken Fitzroy's organs in an AFL-arranged merger.

For those Fitzroy hold-outs who wouldn't cop the Brisbane Lions, the notion of Paul Roos coaching this team might even give them cause to re-consider.