Lance 'Buddy' Franklin has responded to reports he's set to leave the Sydney Swans and head to Queensland at the end of the season, by declaring all contract talks officially on hold.
Franklin's future at the Swans has been dominating AFL headlines this week after Channel 9 reported on Thursday night that he wants to continue his career in Brisbane, with a nine-year contract at the Swans coming to an end this year.
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Sydney Swans CEO Tom Harley responded by saying it's "news to me", with Buddy's wife Jesinta understood to be keen on a move north so they're closer to family on the Gold Coast.
However, in a statement released by the Swans superstar on Saturday morning, Franklin said he would put all contract talks on hold to focus on his footy for the remainder of the season.
The statement did, however, contain a clue that the 35-year-old could be weighing up whether or not to hang up his boots at the end of the season.
“At this stage conversations have been paused around my contract so I can put all my focus on playing footy,” he said.
“No further comment will be made until the season is done and I have decided about my future.
“I am still undecided and need time after the season to make a family decision about whether I continue to play next year.”
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan has welcomed Buddy Franklin's interest in finishing his career as a Lion.
While Fagan was surprised by the reports, he believes the Sydney superstar still has plenty to offer. @joshuadawe9 #9News pic.twitter.com/57TdzSwyZR
— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) August 5, 2022
Franklin's statement came after ports broadcaster Andy Maher on Friday refuted suggestions that the Swans forward was heading to Queensland in 2023.
“I can’t say where it came from, but Franklin’s not going to Brisbane,” Maher said on his SEN radio show.
“He’s not going, he’s going to stay at Sydney and they’re in the throws of working out the contract, so it does sound like he’s going to play another year at the Swans if this information is true and where it’s coming from is pretty strong.
“They’re arguing whether the last $100,000 is marketing money or how it fits in, how they can use what they have available to them within the rules of the game to satisfy what is right for Franklin to receive.
“They’re right at the very end and the edges of just tidying up the contract for next year.”
Franklin and the Swans are yet to come to an agreement on a new contract that would extend his time in Sydney into a 10th season.
The 35-year-old was reportedly insulted by a 'lowball' offer from the Swans last month, before wife Jesinta said they have 'options' if they want to leave Sydney.
Franklin is reportedly seeking a new deal worth $700,000 but was surprised when the Swans only offered him $500,000.
Brisbane Lions coach plays down Buddy Franklin links
On Friday, Brisbane coach Chris Fagan attempted to play down his club's links to Franklin, after the Lions emerged as favourites to win his signature.
Fagan - who knows Franklin well from his time at Hawthorn as an assistant coach - says news of him planning a move to Queensland took him by surprise.
The Lions coach says when he first heard about the reports, his first assumption was that the move would coincide with Buddy's AFL retirement.
"I would have thought if they are moving to Queensland, then that's perhaps an indication that Bud's going to retire from AFL football," Fagan said.
"That's sort of how I read it.
"If it came to pass down the track that they do move here and then someone reaches out from his camp and suggests that he still wants to play, then we'd be remiss as a footy club not to go and have a conversation with him.
"But we're not the only club in Queensland, there's the Gold Coast Suns as well."
Fagan was quick to hose down any suggestions he had already discussed a potential deal to sign Franklin.
"I've not had one conversation with Bud, my latest communication with him was a text message I sent to him when he kicked his thousandth goal, which is four months ago," Fagan said.
"I don't know what will play out in the future but as I said, the way I see it right now, if he's moving to Queensland to live, I would suggest that he's going to retire."
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