In news that will no doubt have Hawk fans wondering if ‘Always Hawthorn’ will become ‘Goodbye Hawthorn’, the biggest franchise player in the AFL, who is due to become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2013 season, has informed the football club that he will be putting off contract talks until the end of the season.

Many will see this as a sure sign that Buddy Franklin will be donning a new guernsey next year, but recent history shows it still keeps his odds of departure at about 75%. Kurt Tippett postponed contract talks with Adelaide, and despite a suspension that will see him miss half a season and sanctions all around, will line up for Sydney in 2013.

Tom Scully postponed talks with Melbourne and left the club to join Greater Western Sydne, while Gary Ablett did the same. It’s interesting to note that both Ablett and Franklin are managed by Liam Pickering.

Travis Cloke postponed his contract talks after leaving them open led to nothing but endless media speculation and impacted on his on-field form, even though he ended up re-signing with Collingwood on a lucrative deal. While Cloke is one of the rare big names to postpone contract talks and remain at his current club, the media frenzy surrounding his contract had a considerable impact on Cloke and Collingwood’s team unity and their on-field performances in 2012.

Pickering has stated that the Hawthorn star forward wishes to concentrate on playing in 2013 without the distraction of contract talks. While a hopeful aim, the naivety in failing to re-sign and take the contract that has been six months negotiating in the making, rumoured to be up to a $1 million a season and for four years, will result in a media frenzy the likes of which haven’t been seen for a number of years.

While Collingwood arguably sells papers with the positioning as the most powerful club in the AFL, Lance Franklin is, without a doubt, the biggest star the game has. From his freakish ability with the ball to his aesthetic appeal and massive merchandising power, Franklin provides just as much on the park as he does off to the club that signs him.

Rumours will abound over the course of the year as to whether Franklin will be staying or going, and speculation will no doubt link him to every single club in the AFL, aside from Sydney, who could not possibly afford him with the money they put up to lure Kurt Tippett to the Harbour City. Franklin will no doubt be linked to Collingwood by the media as well, if only because of the fact that such speculation will result in more papers being sold, but the chances of the Pies pursuing Franklin are miniscule after they too stretched their salary cap with the re-signing of Travis Cloke.

Realistically, there are at best two options for Lance Franklin in 2014. He will either stay at Hawthorn and see out at least the next four years of his life at the club that drafted him, or he will return home to Western Australia.

If Franklin does choose to take an offer Hawthorn won’t be able to match, given its salary cap is stretched to bursting point with Luke Hodge, Cyril Rioli, Sam Mitchell and Jarryd Roughead all on large contracts, the most likely candidate to obtain the superstar’s services in 2014 is Fremantle.

The Dockers have already cleared room in their salary cap in a failed bid to lure Travis Cloke to the club, no doubt prepared for the year-long wait that would occur with Franklin becoming eligible for free agency at the end of the 2013 season. Aside from the money and the go home factor, both of which will have considerable allure to Franklin, the other biggest factor that could influence his decision to move is one of the largest bromances in AFL.

Sharrod Wellingham made the jump from Collingwood to West Coast at the end of the 2012 season, and as a best friend and former housemate of Franklin, it’s entirely possible that their relationship could have considerable sway on whether Franklin decides to move west, which would see the two friends be reunited.

We won’t know what Franklin will choose until the end of the year, but you can guarantee that there will be stories at least every week with frenzied speculation and an intense scrutiny on both Hawthorn and Lance Franklin’s form throughout the 2013 season. The biggest question to come from this story is whether the unrest caused by the biggest superstar of the game possibly leaving costs Hawthorn the opportunity to vie for another flag.


  1. I think you’re right about the Wellingham angle and the the ongoing situation will destabilize Hawthorns season. They won’t win the flag this year if it drags on all season, I can’t think of anyone who has played their best while being the subject of this speculation. The fact he has family in Perth, and his close family might be ready to move back to Perth means there will be many columns written about this situation..

  2. if franklin sighned up now wouldn’t that take away distractions and still leave him free to concentrate on his football

    • That’s the whole argument that causes suspicion about Franklin’s decision. Deciding to delay contract talks will only increase the media frenzy, not decrease it. It is unlikely Hawthorn could go higher than the rumoured offer they have made him, which means in turning it down he has perhaps already signaled his intentions.

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