Dustin Martin. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Richmond confronts the unpalatable prospect of losing Dustin Martin for nothing if the player follows through on his threat to quit the club as he seeks a better deal elsewhere.
At the weekend, I asked my manager Ralph Carr to request an extension of time from Richmond, to allow me to fully consider the options about my future.
With Greater Western Sydney confirming interest in Martin and Melbourne making inquiries on the player's future, it raises the spectre of Martin potentially walking to a new club through the pre-season draft.
Some Tiger fans will take the news hard. Photo: Getty Images
The moves came as Richmond and Martin on Monday took the unusual move of announcing that after five months of stalled negotiations, Martin was going to field offers from other clubs.
Richmond has refused to lift its two-year, $1 million offer to closer to the $600,000-a-year figure that Martin and his management have sought.
Martin went on social media late on Monday to declare he had not walked out on the club but was going to seek offers from other clubs - plainly therefore being prepared to entertain more seriously the concept of leaving. Richmond declared itself extremely disappointed at the move, which came after talks between the player, his agent, Ralph Carr, and Richmond's football operations manager, Dan Richardson, at the weekend failed to push through the deal.
Richardson expressed the club's extreme disappointment in the midfielder's decision, pointedly observing how much help it had given him off the field and the lengths it had gone to keep him.
Richmond is also still at a stalemate over a new deal for defender Reece Conca, who is fielding a large offer from Fremantle to return home to Perth.
It is understood the Dockers have offered Conca a four-year deal on significant terms.
Conca has begun to think about a return home. He and Martin are both out of contract but are not free agents.
''Given the considerable effort we have put into Dustin's development both on and off the field, and our efforts to retain him all season, we are extremely disappointed with this decision,'' Richardson said. ''We are proud of the way Dustin has developed as a footballer, and as a person, in his time at Richmond, and we have been steadfast in our view that he is a required player who has an exciting football career ahead of him.
''However, we understand the business of football, and Dustin's right to pursue other opportunities.''
Richardson said he was determined not to corrupt the club's list and salary cap strategies by overpaying any one player. Carr confirmed Martin had yet to ''walk out on the club''.
Melbourne's football manager, Josh Mahoney, said the club had inquired about Martin's intentions and was waiting to hear back. GWS confirmed its interest, but its capacity to pay will also be dependent on what happens with Lance Franklin and what Martin wants.
It is understood Carlton, on the hunt for quality midfielders, has not yet expressed an interest in Martin. Carr has close links to the Blues, having been a board member.
Melbourne also has pick two in the national draft, which new coach Paul Roos has already stated is on the table for the right deal, so should a trade for Martin be required that would doubtless form part of the conversation as far as Richmond is concerned.
''We did inquire about Dustin's intentions. We are waiting to hear back from them about his intentions before the club discusses any next steps,'' Mahoney said.
Martin took to social media to clarify his situation given ''conflicting stories'' and insisted he had not walked out on the club.
''At the weekend I asked my manager Ralph Carr to request an extension of time from Richmond, to allow me to fully consider the options about my future,'' he said on Twitter of the decision to ask for an extension after more than four months of negotiations had stalled.
''This decision was made purely by me, together with my family. As you can understand, this is a very important decision for myself and my family and one that I won't make lightly.
''I want to make it clear that I appreciate everyone's patience in allowing me the time to make this decision. The claims that I have walked out on the Richmond Football Club are totally incorrect. I can tell you that at this time, no decision has been made.''