COLLINGWOOD'S out-of-contract young gun Dayne Beams has placed more pressure on the Magpies' already strained salary cap. Armed with a new manager and two months of All-Australian form, Beams could jump the queue ahead of Travis Cloke, whose failure to reach a deal with the club has seen a series of negotiations pushed to one side.
Beams, best on ground in Saturday's three-point win over West Coast, recently parted company with Alastair Lynch's and Peter Blucher's Velocity Sports, employing the services of Paul Connors, who last night confirmed he had opened talks with the Magpies.
Connors, who also manages Beams' close friend Steele Sidebottom, said that while a family holiday would put off talks until early next month he was hopeful of reaching a deal soon. Beams is understood to have decided to move to Connors for logistical reasons. While he was close with former Velocity Sports player manager Mark Kleiman, the bulk of Lynch's team is based in Beams' former home state of Queensland.
Cloke's refusal to accept Collingwood's original four-year offer and the dispute over money has put off meaningful negotiations with such highly regarded teammates as Ben Reid, Sharron Wellingham and Harry O'Brien. Beams' pre-season was badly hampered by injury and he began 2012 in the VFL, but his price since is believed to have jumped to near $500,000 a season.
It looks impossible for the Magpies to retain all those players after recently completed big deals with Dale Thomas and Scott Pendlebury. While Beams was initially keen to strike a two-year agreement, the Magpies would be keen to secure the 22-year-old forward-midfielder until the end of 2015. Dane Swan has indicated he plans to retire at the end of 2014.
The increasing likelihood for Cloke is that - should he remain at Collingwood as expected - his failure to come to terms with the club early in the season could end up costing him. Beams' improvement has increased his value while Cloke and his family have refused until this week to budge on their push for a five-year deal.
Yesterday, Cloke's father, David, indicated on the AFL's website that he could compromise to a four-year agreement if the money was right. Cloke is 25 and is understood to want $800,000 a year from Collingwood. He is believed to be fielding several big money offers - most significantly a long-term multi-million offer from Fremantle.
Coach Nathan Buckley recently indicated on Channel Nine that he was not a fan of five-year agreements, a view shared by club chief executive Gary Pert.