THE Brisbane Lions will finally shed Brendan Fevola's exorbitant wage this year and expect to have salary-cap room to retain their young players and possibly join in bidding for free agents.
Fevola has not played a game for the Lions since 2010, but his sacking and pay-out, following his arrest for being a public nuisance on New Year's Day last year, was split over a further two seasons. Lions chief executive Malcolm Holmes yesterday dismissed speculation his club had salary-cap issues, primarily because of back-ended contracts, and said relief would come when Fevola's wage was shed. It's understood Fevola received almost $1 million as part of his pay-out.
''We have obviously been working very hard to get our salary cap in good shape,'' Holmes said. ''We have had Brendan Fevola under our cap, it's been pretty well publicised, but this is the last year of that.
''We have room in it, which gives us flexibility and options. We will have room to give us options but we have also got a very young and developing list. We have got 48 on our list and the key for us is the very young talent that we are continuing to develop and get games into.
''On our list, we have only got six players that have played 100 games or more. So we need to keep this younger group together and to keep developing.''
While they strive to retain their emerging talent, the Lions must also determine whether to re-sign Ash McGrath, an unrestricted free agent, and restricted free agents Josh Drummond and Jed Adcock.
The Lions were last year fined $21,630 for breaching the salary cap in 2010. This was blamed on an administrative error, which the club voluntarily disclosed once it was discovered.
The Lions have just three wins this season, but Holmes said the fixture had not been kind.
''If you go through the first eight rounds, we have actually played four teams in the top eight currently, plus Geelong,'' he said.