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Logo, mini-draft on table

An in-season mini-draft, a ban on top clubs poaching free agents and the possible sale of the AFL logo on the front of player jumpers were options discussed in a bid to ease the gap between the AFL's rich and poor.

It also emerged in a crucial meeting between club presidents and chief executives and the AFL executive on Wednesday that the league acknowledged it needed an additional $15 million to $18 million to be injected in disequal funding to help struggling clubs.

The AFL had announced last year it would spend $144 million on equal and disequal funding in 2012-16. This included $85 million in disequal (allocated) and disequal (not allocated) funding.

The Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Melbourne, St Kilda, Richmond, Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney had been the major beneficiaries of disequal funding.

While clubs were delighted at Etihad Stadium by the open approach of their rivals, some reported the disequalisation debate was still a fight between those advocating the exploration of new revenues, predominantly the rich teams, and others who want a redistribution of wealth, including a greater percentage of gate receipts.

Amid concerns that football-department spending was escalating at an uncontrollable 8 per cent a year, Collingwood proposed two ideas to help secure the additional $18 million.


These were to increase the cost of AFL memberships, as opposed to individual club memberships. The added money would be distributed to the poorer clubs.

The Magpies also believe there is merit in allowing clubs to replace the AFL logo on the front of player guernseys with sponsorship. This money would be pooled, and also distributed to poorer clubs.

However, under a proposal by the West Coast Eagles, the Magpies could take a hit. In a bid to help even on-field fortunes, the Eagles have suggested banning teams that finish in the top four from being able to participate in free agency in that same season.

Under this model, the Magpies would not have secured former Eagle Quinten Lynch last season.

Teams that finish in the bottom four would have unlimited access to free agents.

While Magpies president Eddie McGuire declared his ''faith in the game was restored'' through the openness of the meeting, it didn't stop him from reiterating his stance that the Swans' cost-of-living allowance be axed. However, he was told that was not up for discussion at the meeting.

AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick praised McGuire's input.

There was also a discussion about introducing an in-season mini-draft, which could allow teams struggling on the field to top up their list, possibly via the VFL.

''That was one of the things that was floated but nothing was debated to a point where you got a sense that this was what we were going to do or not,'' Cats president Colin Carter said.

There was overwhelming support for all clubs to have the capacity to pay 100 per cent of the salary cap. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the minimum spend is 95 per cent, up from 92.5 per cent.

''I think that would be one of the aspirations that would make a big difference. When teams can't do that, it unbalances the competition,'' Carter said.

McGuire said he ''didn't think'' a cap on football-department spending would be introduced, a suggestion several clubs have long taken umbrage with. There is about a $5 million gap between the spend in this area of the top and bottom clubs.

Clubs agreed that the draft and salary cap were sacrosanct.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said recommendations would be put to club presidents in September.


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