AFL make a point with new draft system

The AFL will introduce the biggest change to its equalisation policy since the recent addition of two expansion clubs, remodelling the draft in an effort to make father-son and academy picks fairer.

The league handed Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast no shortage of list allowances and other leg-ups, but along with Sydney and Brisbane they’re the big losers of changes to this year’s draft.

Under a new points system, which seeks to establish the market value of every selection, GWS will find it incredibly hard to recruit academy players Jacob Hopper and Matt Kennedy this year given both are rated as likely first-round picks.

The current process for father-son and academy selections allows rivals to bid for a draftee.

The club with priority access to the teenager is then able to match the bid, using their next available selection in the draft.

The merits of the status quo have been debated for many years, with Collingwood president Eddie McGuire particularly indignant after Sydney signed academy product Isaac Heeney with pick No.18 last year.

The league had been developing a new system long before Melbourne bid for Heeney with pick No.2.

On Thursday, details of the `Draft Value Index’ became clearer.

Well, as clear as they’re ever going to be.

Using salary data from the past 14 seasons, the league has assigned a value to every draft pick.

The prized first selection is worth 3000 points, No.2 is 2517 points and it continues to decrease until hitting zero points for everything above No.73.

Clubs must now match bids according to points, with the carrot being they are given a 20 per cent discount.

The Heeney example would require the Swans give up 2013 points – they’d lose picks No.18, No.37 and No.38, while No.57 would become No.64.

The draft order would then be reshuffled, while clubs could go into a points debt on the proviso they cough up picks the following year.

The AFL is also hoping to introduce live bidding on draft night, as opposed to the current system when the deadline is prior to trade period.

“The club is pleased that the father-son and academy bidding system has been finalised well in advance of the draft,” Swans football manager Tom Harley said.

“There is a great deal of detail in the new system and it is something that will take us some time to work through.”

The model has been ticked off by Jeff Borland, an economics professor at the University of Melbourne.

“It compares favourably with similar work that I have seen for international competitions such as the NFL and NBA,” Borland said.

The league looked at games played and other ways to measure potential value, but with the help of list managers and football managers agreed on relative salaries.

The 20 per cent discount was also a bone of contention – predictably some clubs wanted more and others wanted less.

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