Brisbane: The AFL’s Forgotten Frontier

We call on the AFL to acknowledge and address the player retention issue that has been exacerbated by their introduction of Free Agency.

Homesick draftees leaving clubs isn’t a modern phenomenon. However since the introduction of Free Agency it is now culturally acceptable for draftees coming off their initial contracts to nominate the club of their choosing – or in the instance of Chad Wingard, actively telling GWS he’d leave ASAP if they drafted him.

First round draftees have effectively become the ultimate free agents without any of the restrictions faced by their older counterparts. When it comes to the trade table this typically results in poor compensation for the spurned club, as their preferred club holds all the cards.

The Lions have most keenly felt this cultural shift because they are the only frontier team without any form of retention allowance. Given their list composition (with only 6 Queenslanders on their list) they are effectively forever fighting with one hand behind their back. Leigh Matthews called it many years back when Des Headland went home to Freo: the Lions have effectively become a feeder club, mired to the bottom of the ladder endlessly investing time and effort into developing kids only to see them leave and other clubs reap the rewards.

How YOU can help:

There are a myriad of solutions to the issue, both large and small, but first the disadvantage needs to be acknowledged by the AFL. For that to happen the wider public needs to accept that it is a problem. That’s where you come in. Talk to your friends to raise awareness of the issue. Take to social media. Demand that mainstream media discuss the problem. Ask why the AFL isn’t addressing it. Demand a level playing field. Make yourself heard!

Go Lions!


  • Wayne Moore

    22.06.2014 at 20:57

    Wow. Seeing the numbers in the graphic brings home what an issue it is. This needs to be addressed.

  • Douglas

    23.06.2014 at 01:19

    Well done again Roar for getting these issues into the AFL world.

  • Margaret Pavlich

    23.06.2014 at 07:03

    This is what is worrying me the most about where we are now. A lot of the commentators are saying what a good lot of youngsters we have got, but it is no good if after 2 years they want to leave. We will never improve.

  • Michael M

    23.06.2014 at 08:42

    We need a schizophrenic whinger like Eddie Maguire acting as our club’s squeaky wheel and using weasle tactics to get us what we want. You know, operate like Collingwood does.

  • Rodney

    23.06.2014 at 16:08

    This Wingard dude should have been banned from playing for any AFL club. The AFL itself cannot see how some 18 year old kids are making a mockery of the draft. Yes, the Brisbane Lions did win 3 premierships in a row but punishing the club by withdrawing its retention allowance ( probably by the constant bleating of clubs like Collingwood) so to put the southern clubs back into contention for a premiership has put the code in Queensland back 15 years.

  • greg who used to live in brisbane

    25.06.2014 at 05:49

    Many organisations have people who move between states. Many young professionals have to move states to further there careers, It is more likely that organisational culture rather than homesickness is the cause of people wanting to return home. How accepting or supportive of a young draftees is a club where senior members of that club have publicly called Polec a mummys boy on social media while he was still at the club. If you fix your internal club culture people will stay

  • The Lion's Roar

    25.06.2014 at 05:57

    1) How many of those organisations have a draft where you don’t get a say in which state you work?

    2) It’d be hard to argue that the Lions culture wasn’t pretty good during the premiership years, yet they still lost best 22 players. While the club absolutely has to take some responsibility for the go home 5, there’s more to it than that.