Clubs move to finetune AFL deal
Clubs move to finetune AFL deal

The seven WAFL clubs not aligned to West Coast and Fremantle will meet tomorrow to list concerns to present to the WA Football Commission over partnership deals struck with East Perth and Peel.

The meeting, which is expected to ask for higher partnership licence fees from the two AFL clubs, more detail on the recruiting conditions and for transfer fees to be paid for rookies who will no longer play for their WAFL club of origin, is part of an angry reaction to news of the historic deals which were struck on Monday.

The clubs fumed after what they had expected to be a proposal to trigger another consultative process turned out to be a done deal, for partnerships to start in 2014 with the Thunder and Royals, who took AFL partners to shore up their long-term futures.

WAFC chairman Frank Cooper said there had already been a lengthy consultation.

"They were expecting we would come back with a proposal that would then go into a further consulting phase," he said.

"They were concerned that we gave them a concluded way forward.

"While we recognise that concern, this issue has been discussed at length for a couple of years."

Peel president John Ditchburn and Royals counterpart Bronte Howson were confident they would have the support of their members.

"We have had difficulty in the past retaining our own players and I don't need to tell you the list that have gone to other clubs," Ditchburn said.

"We have difficulty retaining kids because we don't have a university in Mandurah and four to six young kids leave our club every year that might have been 100-game players for us.

"We saw this as an opportunity for us to avoid those issues and have regular players of a reasonable standard playing at our football club."

Ditchburn was furious that a senior official of a rival club had phoned coach Cam Shepherd after Tuesday night's briefing on the deal claiming he was going to lose his job.

"We appointed Cam for two years," he said. "We believe that Cam will be able to see out his contract and hopefully from then on he will prove that he is worthy to be part of the partnership and continue to coach.

"We also looked at the repercussions of us not being involved. If we were to lose five or six players that we have on our list from AFL clubs, we more than any other club would have difficulty replacing those players."

Howson said East Perth had benefited from their previous host club alignment with the Eagles and had also weighed the consequences of not being the club that took the partnership.

He and West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett dismissed speculation about the appointment of coach Brian Dawson, who some claimed was an Eagles appointment.

"We worked very well with the Eagles, we didn't have any issues with them," Howson said.

"Quite honestly, from a members view point, we would have copped criticism from some members whether we had or hadn't done an alignment.

"Some will criticise us for doing it. Others would have criticised us had we not done it.

"If you don't make change and you don't progress you have the possibility that your football club is not there in the future.

"I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be a club looking at it in two years time thinking we are a spent force. East Perth will now remain East Perth for many years."

Nisbett and Fremantle counterpart Steve Rosich rejected claims that the $450,000 fees they would each pay annually for their partnerships were not high enough.

"West Coast contributed $5.5 million to WA footy last year, Freo contributed $4.5 million," Nisbett said.

"We want to make this work and we want to make sure that not only the two clubs are successful, we want to make sure the competition is successful."

Rosich stressed the partnership with Peel was not a takeover.

"It could go on for a very long time," he said. "We hope it does. We're approaching this arrangement on that basis."

WAFL Council of Presidents chairman Haydn Raitt was diplomatic.

"You can't stop it, as long as the money is right," he said. "That is the biggest problem for the WAFL today. We don't get the crowds, we don't get the sponsorship.

"Five of the presidents wanted a bit more dough than what was offered.

"It did get a rough reception but we are meeting on Friday to short list the things that we believe they missed and resubmit them.

"At the end of the day, the commission can do it without our consent anyway and we could end up with nothing.

"I think we will all have a look at it from a sensible point of view. The commission has done rather a good job, they have just missed out some smaller detail. I think they tried to put a good deal to the WAFL and to help the WAFL."

The West Australian

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