AFL salary cap uncertainty hurting players

The deadlock over a new AFL pay deal may have cost former Sydney forward Xavier Richards his career, Swans coach John Longmire says.

Four months after playing in the Swans’ grand final loss to the Western Bulldogs, 23-year-old Richards has found himself on the scrapheap after his attempt to find a new home backfired spectacularly.

Sydney had offered the key position player a two-year deal but Richards rejected the offer, instead opting to seek a trade to a Melbourne club.

But he was unable to attract a suitor and was delisted at the end of the October trade period.

Richards, whose older brother Ted played 11 seasons with the Swans before his retirement last year, will play for Sydney University in the NEAFL this year.

It comes as the AFL continues to stare down demands from the players’ union for a percentage of fixed revenue in a new collective bargaining agreement.

The standoff has left clubs uncertain on exactly where their salary cap will land in coming years and Longmire believes it has left role players like Richards with less chance of finding a new home.

“He should be on an AFL list somewhere,” Longmire told SEN radio on Tuesday.

“He’s played the back 10 games of the season and he was able to play four finals games, including a grand final. He’s very athletic and had a lot going for him so that’s why we offered him another contract.

“I think there’s a bit of uncertainty in the football world with the salary cap. We’re not really sure what that looks like.

“I think when it gets down to the nitty gritty in some of those negotiations across the competition, maybe some of the other clubs … did they know exactly what it was and how that impacted on them?”

The AFL and AFL Players Association have resumed talks on a new pay deal but do not appear close to reaching agreement.

Players have not ruled out taking action during the preseason competition, with Collingwood star Scott Pendlebury last week saying he would be willing to stage a sitdown during one of the matches.

“I think it’s something that we’ve got to fight for, and I don’t think the players are going to blink either,” Pendlebury said on a podcast.

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