AFL’s plan to help battlers avoid ‘death spiral’


The AFL could force North Melbourne to trade the priority pick it may receive at the end of the year in order for the club to avoid what’s been deemed a “death spiral”.

After finishing last on the ladder with just four wins in 2021, the Kangaroos’ fortunes have not improved this year, with the club winning just one of its first 14 games.

According to The Age’s Caroline Wilson, the Kangaroos will “undoubtedly” ask the league for a priority pick, but could have the decision on what to do with the pick taken out of their hands.

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“It’s a conversation that has been concerning the AFL for several months now,” Wilson told Nine’s Footy Classified.

“I’d be staggered if they got pick one and pick two. I think they’ll get a pick in the middle of round one or the end of round one.

“If it was pick 19, their hand would be forced, they would have to trade that pick. There’d be a mutiny if they gave them (picks) one and two.”

Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire backed the proposal, suggesting the Kangaroos needed more veteran leaders at the club rather than a whole host of 18-year-old draftees.

“We don’t want this to be like the death spiral that it was with the Gold Coast, where they got priority picks and traded them after a couple of years and everyone stole their players,” he told Footy Classified.

“This has to get North Melbourne up and running before any priority picks or anything comes in for Tasmania.

“If we’re going to keep them, and we want to, you’ve got to get them right this year. You can’t wait for the year after or the year after that because Tasmania’s going to be on front and centre in everyone’s mind.”

The last AFL club to receive an assistance package were the Gold Coast Suns, who were awarded multiple extra picks in the 2019 draft.

While rival teams have baulked at the prospect of any club receiving priority picks, former AFL coach Ross Lyon suggested they could cope with it happening for one year.

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“We recognise their senior core is as thin as there is in the AFL,” he told Footy Classified.

“They need that cultural driver and more young talent. I think AFL clubs would digest it better if it’s a one-year hit and move on, as opposed to a multi-year assistance package.”

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