Sports

McLachlan dismisses Giants’ call for more cash

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AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has dismissed Greater Western Sydney CEO David Matthews calls for the league to increase ambassadorial payments for star players at clubs in northern states.

Matthews believes the extra cash would help the Suns, for instance, to hang onto Tom Lynch beyond this season and fend off strong advances from Victorian clubs for the key forwards services.

However, McLachlan believes extra funds would allow clubs in non-traditional footy markets to “manipulate” their total player payments (TPP).

“Tom Lynch needs to be contracted on the right terms. The reality is, though, its a bit of a semantic point,” McLachlan told 3AW on Friday.

“They (Gold Coast) have got enough money to pay 100 percent of the TPP so they have to make decisions about how much they offer him that fits within the TPP.

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“Weve been down that (road) where clubs can ultimately manipulate that to have a broader view about how they contract players. Clubs need to contract players within the TPP – after that, then clubs do receive ambassador payments but they cant be linked.”

Gillon McLachlan said more money for ambassador payments to players in the north was not something he supported.

Photo: AAP

Matthews has a different opinion, however, and thinks it would be a “smart investment” for the AFL to set-up an additional fund worth $1 million at least for the northern clubs to access and use on star players to do additional promotional work off the field.

“$1 million dollars sounds a lot but its not when you think that probably the TAC Cup still has a budget of about $4 million a year and then weve added Next Generation Academies on top of that,” Matthews said on SEN.

“Im just suggesting when youve got 45 players on the Gold Coast or 45 players in western Sydney and youre third or fourth in terms of where youre placed competitively against soccer or rugby league or rugby union, then you need more promotional clout.

“Id be in favour of four or five players at the Lions, the Giants, the Suns and the Swans being given proper and appropriate ambassador money to do additional work.

“I just think its narrow-minded some of the criticism for clubs that are seven and eight years into their existence in very, very challenging and difficult markets to just be constantly ripped apart, and thats what happens, and this is why the emotion that comes out of Victorian clubs and the Victorian media undermines the AFLs investment in those markets.”

GWS, Gold Coast and Brisbane, in particular, have seen many young and talented players leave them in recent years.

The Giants have lost the likes of Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams, Devon Smith and Will Hoskin-Elliott, the Suns have lost stars such as Gary Ablett, Dion Prestia, Josh Caddy and Charlie Dixon while the Lions parted ways with Elliot Yeo, Sam Docherty, Jared Polec and Josh Schache.

Matthews used NRL club Melbourne Storm as an example of how important big stars can be in helping to establish a strong club in a non-traditional market.

“Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk have become significant names for the NRL in Melbourne and helped Melbourne Storm establish itself as a very strong club,” he said.

“I just think theres an opportunity there. Im only saying that there needs to be some common sense in the debate.

“The best promotional assets the game has are the players – theyre the best – and if youve only got 45 players on the Gold Coast and 45 players in western Sydney and theyre unrecognisable and theyre not being given the opportunities to promote the game as heavily as they can, then I think were selling ourselves short.”

Ronny Lerner

Ronny Lerner is a Sports reporter for The Age.

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