Money can cure anything, even homesickness it seems. That’s what the football community has been taught since the introduction of free agency.
Mitch Clark led the way last season after feeling “homesick” and wanted to head back to Western Australia. That was until the Demons offered him a larger salary and all of a sudden he called Melbourne home.
This year, Kurt Tippett is the perfect example. Brisbane and Gold Coast quickly flurried around him like seagulls to a box of chips. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t realise that his homesickness had an asterisk. That asterisk was a higher-paying contract.
As of now, Collingwood, Sydney and Carlton are all in the race for his signature. All three clubs would be forced to move on at least a couple of players to fit him in, and one has to wonder what players at those clubs would be thinking should their mates be involuntarily put on the trading block.
With the introduction of free agency and an extended trade period this year, players appear more willing to change clubs than ever before. The biggest issue is that the teams have very little rights in what they can and can’t do to stop a player leaving.
Previously, those who had served eight years or more at one club would be considered great club servants and would only change sides for a chance of furthering their career. Now it seems that money is the main objective.
There are three reasons why players chose to change clubs: greater opportunities, homesickness and financial reasons. The latter seems to be the most popular in the 2012 off-season.
Brendon Goddard was one of St Kilda’s top five players, yet he resisted a strong offer from the Saints to increase his superannuation come retirement.
Goddard, along with Lenny Hayes, almost handed the Saints their second flag in 2010. Two years on, he has flown the coop for an estimated $150,000-$200,000 per year more than he was offered from the Saints.
It is believed St Kilda offered a three-year contract worth $600,000 a season, which the majority in the football industry thought was more than fair. Brendon, however, decided that the extra $150,000 was too much to stay a one-club player and became a Bomber. One can only imagine what other Essendon players must be thinking, especially if they have taken pay cuts lately.
Every club would love a Brendon Goddard or Kurt Tippett type player who, at their best, could become match winners, but right now both players have shown very little loyalty and that the pay cheque is the most important factor in choosing a club.
Gone are the days when clubs received fair compensation or lost players to other clubs purely for homesickness. Now they receive one compensation pick determined by the AFL.
This is the monster that the AFL has created, and while it may be exciting, it tears at the fabric of team loyalty.