What got us talking: Contract extensions

In recent years, it has been fashionable to extend coaches’ contracts.

Club after club have re-signed coaches in an act of ‘faith’, as a way to remove speculation as the contract deadline looms closer and closer.

Sometimes this works. And other times, it fails horribly.

Hawthorn is the latest club to make a move on its senior coach. On Friday morning, four-time premiership coach, Alastair Clarkson, was handed a contract extension until the end of 2019.

The deal was predictable. After winning the past three flags, as well as another in 2008, it was only expected the Hawks would want to lock away their very sought-after coach.

But some other coaching decisions have looked a little more questionable.

Prior to the 2016 home and away season, Collingwood, Richmond, and Fremantle all signed their coaches for an extended period of time.

The Dockers’ Ross Lyon will be at the helm until 2020, the Tigers’ Damian Hardwick until 2018, and Collingwood signed on Nathan Buckley until the end of 2017.

All three clubs believed they were on the right track. Their lists appeared strong and the premiership window was opening (if not already open).

But five rounds in and there is a certain sense of trepidation around these pre-season decisions.

These clubs’ poor results have been well documented over the last month. Despite calls for change, there shouldn’t be any drastic actions just yet. There is still a long time left in the season.

But their predicaments have led us to question: why do clubs decide to go ahead with contract extensions so early?

Is it media pressure? Commentary from past players? Or is it fans’ expectations?

Dual-premiership coach, Dennis Pagan, says it’s the added attention that clubs look to avoid.

“There’s always going to be exceptions to the rule,” Pagan said. “But the reality is, the speculation, the discussion, becomes distracting. You don’t need it to be brought up at every press conference. It goes without saying.”

But sometimes biting the bullet and signing a coach on early only leaves the clubs and coaches feeling burnt.

And surely there is nothing wrong with waiting to have contract discussions.

Let the season run its course, reassess the situation and then (hopefully) make the appropriate decision.

A calm and measured approach has to be preferred over the often idealistic and impassioned methods of recent years.

And if we think in purely a business sense, clubs will save a whole lot of money if they do decide a change in senior coach is in order. Sacking coaches is expensive work. Just ask Carlton.

Now of course every club is looking to win a premiership. It’s the ultimate goal of everyone involved in AFL.

Dennis Pagan said “you’ve got to do everything right” to get to that final weekend in September. And it’s a lot easier said than done.

But having the right coach does make the difference.

So clubs, don’t look to outside pressure when re-signing a coach. Take your time, sit back, and reap the benefits.


What we learnt from round 5

– Free kick to Hawthorn

A contentious decision on Friday quite possibly cost the Crows the game. But while it seems the Hawks are winning a little too many of the close calls, they’re not officially the umps’ favourite. That title goes to the Bulldogs, who are averaging 23.2 free kicks a game.

– Fyfe in strife

The Dockers lost more than just the game on the weekend. Brownlow medalist Nathan Fyfe and defender Michael Johnson both succumbed to injury during the loss to the Blues. With Sandilands, Bennell, and Mundy also sidelined, Fremantle’s season doesn’t look to be getting any easier.

– AFL cashes in

Melees were the order of the week and the AFL reaped the rewards. $29,500 in fact. It seems like the players might start to keep their hands to themselves, if only to keep the cash in their own pockets.


What we can expect from round 6

– Top of the table

North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs don’t get Friday night games too often, but this week sees them on the big stage. Both are playing excellent footy and this match could decide who finishes the round on top. But it’s always hard to tip against the Dogs at Etihad. Nonetheless, the Roos are in winning fashion so the result could go either way.

– Surely not another 3-point win to Hawthorn

The storyline has been done to death. Yes, we understand Hawthorn can win under pressure. We know they’ve won the last three premierships for a reason. But the rest of the comp would greatly appreciate a different sort of result.

– Wins on the trot

Could Melbourne make it three in a row? Could the Blues notch up their second win against the Bombers? It’s hard to know with these developing teams. But it’s probably safe to say the Dockers will remain in last place.


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