Sydney have scored a qualified victory in their battle to ease the trading restrictions on them, by being given more financial flexibility heading into the upcoming AFL Exchange Period.
As part of the transition away from their Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), the Swans were initially limited to only trading for a player whose contract offer was at or below the average wage for a listed player, believed to be around $350,0000, and one who had served for two years in the competition.
Sydney publicly criticised the restriction and continued lobbying the AFL, believing it was unnecessary as it hadn’t breached any rule.
There had been suggestions in some quarters that the restriction was applied to stop the Swans making another major recruiting swoop on a highly valued player as they did with Kurt Tippett in 2012 and Lance Franklin in 2013.
Following further discussions between Sydney and the AFL, it was announced on Friday that the Swans would be permitted to replace one player who leaves the club as either a free agent or as part of a trade, with a contract offer of up to $450,000 per year.
If Sydney chooses to replace a departing player with this option, their transitional COLA amount of $600,000 for the 2016 season will be lowered by 9.8 per cent of the traded-out players contract, if that player was contracted for 2016.
AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said the Swans had raised with the AFL that the upcoming Exchange Period and List Lodgement dates may present a number of potential eventualities including losing a player whose contract was beyond the average-wage mark.
The Swans feared they would not be able to adequately replace that person with the restrictions in place.
“At all times, the Sydney Swans have complied fully with the AFL’s Rules, and the club has been in regular discussion with the AFL Executive about how it may approach the Exchange Period with the prospect that a senior player may elect to leave the club and how he may be replaced,” Dillon said in the AFL statement.
“The AFL has sought to work with the club to reach an effective solution to allow Sydney to participate in the trade and free agency process, while acknowledging that it’s current COLA payment that does not apply to 16 other clubs across the AFL, is being phased out of the competition.”
Swans General Manager of Football Tom Harley said the club was satisfied with the clarification.
“While the club is firmly of the view there should be no restrictions at all, the clarification of the ruling gives us more flexibility during the upcoming trade period,” Harley said in a statement issued by the Swans.
“The club has not breached an AFL rule and we still consider the initial ruling unnecessary.
“However, we accept the AFL’s clarification on the decision and now consider the matter closed,” Harley said.