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International recruitment about to explode?

  • Monday, March 17 2008 @ 11:21 am ACDT
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General News

The Australian Football League's Commission has signed off on a major change to AFL club recruitment rules which could be the catalyst to sparking a wave of international recruitment in what may be a watershed moment for the spread of our sport. It also indicates that the AFL is genuinely considering international talent as a means of expanding the player base as new teams enter from the Gold Coast and West Sydney.

Two years ago the AFL added the International Scholarship List to encourage AFL clubs to bring international players into the system. This was separate to the international rookie list which effectively merged with the normal rookie list (think Irish players such as the O'hAilpin brothers, Martin Clarke, and more recently Brendan Murphy) and this new list excluded Irish players. There was a financial overhead that may have put off clubs taking the risk, and so far none have done so, despite some very talented Papuan youngsters such as John James playing in Queensland. The drop to just $1000 if the player remains in their home system and an increase in the number that can be listed must surely now see AFL clubs prepared to invest in some of international football's bright young talent.

worldfootynews.com is aware of at least one AFL club that is making plans to actively seek out talent (and not in the better known regions of Ireland, South Africa or PNG). This listing change is believed to have only strengthened that motivation.

The full details of the changes follow, from the AFL document issued Friday 14th March by David Matthews, General Manager of National and International Development, and Andrew Dillon, General Manager of Legal and Business Affairs, as sent to AFL clubs and international affiliates.

With competition expansion in our planning, coupled with an emerging international program, the AFL Commission today agreed to changes to the current International Scholarship rules that effectively create further incentives for AFL Clubs and international affiliates to pursue international talent.

By way of background, the AFL introduced the International Scholarship Rules in December 2006 and effectively created a potential fourth list (i.e primary, rookie, NSW, international). The International Scholarship rules apply to regions outside of Australia, other than Ireland. The intent of the rules was, and is, to create an opportunity for clubs to consider international talent without the opportunity cost previously associated with the necessity of having to rookie or primary list a player at the expense of local talent. The rules allow Clubs to sign and develop an international player prior to upgrading if deemed worthy.

The following changes were agreed today and are effective immediately:

1. Increase the number of International Scholarship players able to be signed from two (2) per year to eight (8) per year.

AFL Player Rule 34.1 to be amended to read –

34.1 International Scholarship List – Establishment and Number

Each Club may, in accordance with the provisions of this Rule 34, list eight players each year on their International Scholarship List up to a maximum of twenty four Players.

2. Reduce the cost per player for Scholarships where the player remains domiciled from $10k to $1k.

AFL Player Rule 34.2.6 to be amended to read –

34.2.6 Benefits

An International Scholarship List Player shall be provided with Football Benefits by or on behalf of the Club of a minimum value of:

(a) $1,000 per Football Year if the Player remains domiciled in the International Development Region; or

(b) $20,000 per Football Year if the Player is required to be relocated from the International Development Region;

or such other minimum amounts as determined by the Commission from time to time.

Reducing the payment from $10,000 to $1,000 ensures that the increased numbers do not have a financial impact of the Clubs. It further encourages Clubs to invest in International Scholarship Players, possibly freeing up money that may be invested in development program resources, such as equipment, coaches and facilities.

For further enquiries in relation to the opportunities these changes provide please do not hesitate to contact Kevin Sheehan or Jason McCartney at the AFL.