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Footy Fix: grand final preview

Rohan Connolly previews the AFL grand final blockbuster between Sydney and Hawthorn.

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AS BRENDON Goddard continues to weigh up his future, clubs and player managers have begun to peruse the fine print of free agency, officially beginning on Monday.

Goddard took part in grand final week activities at Federation Square yesterday, but opted not to speak publicly about whether he will accept St Kilda's offer or pursue what is expected to be a four-year deal from Essendon.

Geelong and Fremantle, now out of the race for Travis Cloke, are also interested in the classy utility.

AFL Round 23.Carlton V St.Kilda. St.Kilda's Brendon Goddard in action at Etihad Stadium.2 September 2012.Picture Sebastian Costanzo. The Age.

Up in the air: Brendon Goddard. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Goddard has yet to decide whether to quit the Saints but will make his intentions clear early next week.

Only then will the Saints know what they will have to match if they want to keep the restricted free agent.

Under free agency rules, Goddard can only submit his best offer from a rival club for the Saints to match.

The Saints have so far offered a three-year deal worth about $1.9 million. Goddard wants a four-year contract and can expect a pay rise if he were to leave.

AFL salary cap manager Ken Wood and operations manager Adrian Anderson distributed separate documents to clubs this week outlining free agency rules, compensation and adjustments to the veterans' allowance.

Clubs and agents already believe there could be loopholes in the system.

Agents and football managers have also seen for the first time what are known as a ''form 41'' and ''form 42'' that clubs and free agents must sign.

Restricted free agents must sign a form 41 confirming a bid from a rival club. The player's club has three days to decide whether to match the offer, consisting of football payments and additional services agreements, or let the player leave.

If the player does not accept the matching offer, he will have to nominate for the draft or be open to a trade. In the document, Anderson tells clubs: ''In order to qualify as a matching offer, the player's existing club must make an offer on precisely the same terms as the new offer tabled by the player in respect of the following matters: 1) contract length; 2) base payments; 3) total match payments; 4) total ASA payments; 5) total performance incentives based on AFL awards or honours, club best and fairest finish or games played (not including finals).

''Any incentives for team performance are not required to be matched. A player may not table an offer to be matched for less than a two-year contract length. For salary cap purposes, actual payments made to players by either club (being new or existing) may be allocated evenly over the contract length.

''For example, if a player is offered a three-year deal for base payments of $400K, $100K and $100K, and ASA payments of $40K, $10K, $10K, the club that matches these payments may allocate $200K per year under the TPP (total player payment) limit and $20K per year under the ASA limit.''

Clubs can ask for an indication of what compensation they would receive for losing a player from the AFL but, as Wood says, will only know the true extent when the free agency period ends on October 19, and by no later than midday on October 23.

Unrestricted free agents must provide a form 42 outlining an offer from a rival club.

In both cases, contracts must be lodged with the AFL within seven days. As for compensation, Anderson says in the document: ''We confirm that the compensation formula will produce a points rating for players based on two factors: 1) new contract of the free agent and 2) age of the free agent.

''Draft picks will be allocated to clubs based on the net total points for free agents lost and gained during the transfer period. Draft picks will be allocated to one of five places: first round, end first round, second round, end of second round and third round.''