The AFL has handed the Gold Coast Suns a massive lifeline, announcing the struggling club will be given extra draft picks over the next three years as part of a comprehensive assistance package.
The Suns will get a priority pick, giving them selections one and two in this year’s national draft plus an extra at the end of the 2019 first round.
They will also get a pick in the middle of the first round in 2020 – currently pick 11 – and an end-of-first-round pick in 2021.
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The deal also allows the Suns to simply list their academy players without a bidding and the Darwin region has been added as an academy zone. The Suns will also get access to up to 10 rookies.
However, the deal does not include extra salary cap allowance.
“There is no doubt the Gold Coast Suns have had enormous challenges throughout their short history and it is to the benefit of the entire competition that the Suns are competitive,” the AFL’s general counsel Andrew Dillon said in a statement.
“The AFL and football fans want a strong and even competition and while the endeavour and intent can’t be faulted by the Gold Coast Football Club, there have been executional challenges along the journey that have impacted the on-field competitiveness of the team.
“While the package is set for three years to provide certainty to players, staff and the entire industry, the AFL Commission retains the right to remove future picks and / or academy access based on the club’s performance.”
The package is subject to review in years two and three.
Suns Chairman Tony Cochrane welcomed the news.
“The Gold Coast Suns welcome the commitment and support of the AFL Commission and its Executive following the confirmation of the assistance package outlined this morning. The SUNS are excited by the challenges that lay ahead, and we look forward to delivering for our players and members in the future,” Cochrane said.
Chief Executive Mark Evans said the club will now focus on making the most of the opportunity.
“Twelve months ago, we presented to the AFL Commission and detailed our strategy on the long term reset of our playing list, football department and programs. In particular we detailed our strategies to secure high-end draft talent over multiple seasons and to complement this by attracting mid-career players of quality,” Evans said.
“In August we updated the Commission on the progress of this strategy and asked for the AFL to consider some elements with the current system that are impacting our current predicament.
“Having updated the Commission on the progress of many of our programs we take great confidence from the support we have received, however they too identified we required assistance to give our program the stimulus we know we need.
“The Gold Coast SUNS commitment to building the club properly remains our priority and we are determined to deliver a football club that our players, staff, members, fans and wider Gold Coast & Queensland communities can be proud of.
“As a result of the assistance outlined today, from a list point of view our absolute focus is the long-term list build which prioritises recruiting top end elite talent. Our list management team will now turn their heads to how we best use the assistance provided to capitalise on this in 2019 and beyond.
“Off the field we can add further resources to our football program in line with our strategy, ensuring our players and coaches are surrounded by the best possible people and programs which will have a positive impact on retaining and attracting players.”
HERE’S THE DETAILS OF THE ASSISTANCE PACKAGE:
The provision of draft picks for the next 3 years (reviewable annually), including the first pick in the 2019 AFL Draft.
- Pick #1 and first pick of the second round (currently pick #20) in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft.
- Mid-first round pick (currently pick #11) in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft
- First pick of the second round (currently pick #19) in the 2021 NAB AFL Draft.
The Gold Coast SUNS will also receive expanded Academy player access for 3 years including:
- Provision of the Darwin region as an Academy zone.
- Ability to pre-sign Gold Coast SUNS Academy players (including those from Darwin) without bidding.
- Increased rookie list, up to 10 players