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Loyalty is dead - long live ambition

Date

The Secret Agent

FOOTBALLERS should be admired for ambition and not pilloried for disloyalty.

Clubs are looking closely at their player relationships in these uncertain and evolving times. For too long players have been asked to remain loyal and trust that they will be a part of something great. But loyalty requires true connection, a fully engaged relationship from both parties - not just the player. Loyalty is a two-way street.

Players have generally been treated unfairly when it comes to the possibility of moving to another club. With the change that is now upon us, it would be hypocritical of clubs to think players will opt for loyalty instead of maximising their opportunity in what can be a short-lived career.

In 1996 Chris Grant was offered an unprecedented sum to join the newly established Port Adelaide. At the time Grant said he'd ''fallen in love with the lure of being a one-team player''. Had Grant accepted Port's offer, he would have played in a premiership, grand finals and for a more significant financial reward.

At the time the pressure on Grant was enormous. And if the same situation played out now, his decision might be different.

The landscape has changed and agents are taking more responsibility to understand the market. The more experienced the agent the better the opportunities for a player, or a coach.

Gary Ablett showed that last season. Ablett, too, had the lure of being a one-team player. In the end, the financial opportunity to join the Gold Coast Suns was far too great. Many accused him of being disloyal, but the opportunity to stay at Geelong during a successful period was not enough to keep the Suns at bay.

AFL players and coaches have every right to explore ambition - Ross Lyon showed that last season when he left St Kilda to seize what he felt was a better opportunity at Fremantle.

It is something the public will have to get used to. Loyalty will no longer be the deciding factor in most decisions. It is becoming an old-fashioned concept. The AFL environment is intense and under scrutiny. Players and coaches are looking to maximise earning potential in what can be a very brief existence.

There is no room for hypocrisy now. Players should be applauded for exploring their future to grow, to prosper and to keep their dream alive. Loyalty is not something that should necessarily stop people acquiring a greater source of income.

If your club accuses a player of disloyalty, then I hope it won't take advantage of free agency and acquire a player from another club. It is time to welcome change and understand that the market demands player movement. Respect and admire the ambition of players and coaches.

The Secret Agent is one of the 72 AFL accredited agents.

6 comments so far

  • Amazing. A player agent who gets paid more the more his clients get paid, is championing free agency and the no doubt inflated pay packet they will receive in the process

    Who would have thought ...

    Commenter
    Adrian
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    May 01, 2012, 12:39PM
    • What is it with everyone criticising players for looking after their future and changing clubs? The football public seems to take it personally when players defect to other teams. These so called fans then lower themselves by abusing and name calling from the sidelines.
      In the case of AFL footballers – we should remember that football is their chosen career path, and has a limited life span. Imagine if can, you were abused by people you don't know, just because had the audacity of changing jobs in an attempt to better your own future!

      Commenter
      Terry
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 1:08PM
      • The main point in your argument destroys your argument.
        Gary Ablett has more money, wow, didn't he have enough?
        Will he hang the money around his neck, will his exploits in the money earning stakes become stuff of legend, will he recall fondly in later years the pride he felt as he gazed upon his bank statement.
        How can we respect and admire players and coaches if their only ambition is money because that ain't the way to live your life no matter what you are involved in.

        Commenter
        Jeff
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        May 01, 2012, 4:36PM
        • "Loyalty is an old-fashioned concept"? Here we have the AFL crap on about "making better people" out of the young fellas in their employ, and yet a very basic principle is just thrown out the window for cash. I've got no problem whatsoever if a player feels a big contract is too much to pass up. By all means, mate, off you go. But don't expect me to applaud you and pat you on the back after you decide that the club and its fans are worth less than a pay cheque. Players must make the choice: Character or cash. You can rarely have both.

          Commenter
          BornABulldog
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          May 01, 2012, 4:36PM
          • These guys earn plenty of dollars anyway, and their earning potential after they retire is better than most simply because of who they are. Clubs are better at preparing players for life after footy so to suggest that they must maximize their earnings and walk away from the club that has helped mould them into a professional is more about wealth for agents than for footballers.

            Commenter
            Keith
            Location
            Nth qld
            Date and time
            May 01, 2012, 5:44PM
            • There are still those players who want tio play at one club but theuy are few abnd far between.

              Commenter
              JASON & MELISSA
              Location
              BORONIA & FERNTREE GULLY
              Date and time
              May 02, 2012, 6:51AM

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