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AFL greats take aim at Fremantle over 'farcical' call on coach Justin Longmuir

Fremantle made the announcement before the club's first game of the season.

Fremantle have been called out for a 'farcical' PR move after handing under-fire coach Justin Longmuir a one-year contract extension at the beginning of the AFL season. Last year, Longmuir came under pressure after Fremantle missed out on finals footy after a below-par campaign.

Fremantle will start their season hosting Brisbane this weekend and in a move attempted to fill fans with confidence, the club announced Longmuir had extended his contract that will see him stay to the end of 2025. However, AFL great David King was unimpressed with the decision and labelled the announcement a 'PR stunt gone wrong' for the club.

AFL great David King (pictured right) has labelled Fremantle's one-year contract extension announcement for Justin Longmuir as a 'farcical' PR stunt. (Images: Getty Images/Fox Sports)
AFL great David King (pictured right) has labelled Fremantle's one-year contract extension announcement for Justin Longmuir as a 'farcical' PR stunt. (Images: Getty Images/Fox Sports)

“It’s farcical, everyone’s seeing through this straight away,” King said on Fox Footy. “It’s a PR stunt gone wrong. Fancy giving a guy one year. You’re not absolutely saying ‘he’s our man, we’ve got him for another three years, get used to it guys and lay down your guns’.

“He’s under enormous pressure to get this club rolling, to play a brand of football that we’ve seen from [Craig] McRae and [Matthew] Nicks and where football’s actually going. I just think they’ve made what they think is a great sell into a PR disaster.”

In the pre-game show, Hawthorn great Jason Dunstall echoed the same argument and claimed the club had not done themselves any favours with the announcement. “I don’t understand why you would extend a coaches tenure by one year,” Dunstall said. “It’s not showing long-term commitment, it doesn’t do anything.

“If they have a poor year, wouldn’t you then like the opportunity should you so desire, to make a change? But they’ve handcuffed themselves by giving one year, not two or three, and saying he’s our man long term.”

Justin Longmuir speaks to the players.
Justin Longmuir has extended his contract till the end of 2025 with Fremantle. (AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Fremantle announce Justin Longmuir extension

While the announcement has only prompted further criticism for Fremantle heading into their first game of the season, Longmuir said he feels the extension will stop the noise around whether it would be his final season. He said the only focus in on footy.

"It allows us to focus on what we need to focus on," Longmuir said after the announcement. "It probably stops a little bit of the noise externally. It doesn't relieve any pressure. As a senior coach, you go into every game with a level of expectation and pressure. It doesn't change that, but it gives some security."

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Despite AFL greats criticising the announcement, the Fremantle playing group were clearly pleased for Longmuir as he was granted a loud cheer from the team when the news was announced. "It was very embarrassing," Longmuir said. "I don't like the attention on myself. It was a pretty awkward couple of minutes. But I've always felt the support from the players, from the hierarchy at the football club. It was nice to hear."

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