Adrian Anderson
Adrian Anderson

The AFL have announced the future awarding of priority draft picks will be at the discretion of the Commission while clubs will also face fines of up to $100,000 if found to have breached stricter regulations relating to negotiations with players from other clubs.

With tanking back in the headlines following Carlton midfielder Brock McLean's admission he left Melbourne because of concerns they were not trying to win matches, the league have altered their Special Assistance Rule.

Instead of clubs automatically qualifying for draft concessions following one or more poor seasons on the field, football operations manager Adrian Anderson will now make a recommendation to the Commission if he believes a club should be considered for such assistance.

It will then be up to the Commission whether or not to grant priority draft picks.

"Special Assistance is now ultimately a matter for the Commission's discretion and will be awarded only in exceptional circumstances," Anderson said.

"The decision of the Commission to award special assistance will be based on a club's on-field performance in recent years and any other matter the Commission regards as relevant.

"A confidential formula will be used to help assess recent on-field performance, but this will be only be one relevant consideration."

With free agency being introduced, the AFL have tightened rules governing clubs trying to lure stars from their rivals, attempting to distance themselves from practices in the NRL where players can sign deals with other clubs mid-season and in some cases actually change clubs during the season.

Clubs can continue to negotiate with players during the season but any discussions over possible contracts have to be classed as 'non-binding'.

And while a player still cannot enter a binding agreement with a rival club before his current contract has expired, he will also no longer be able to sign with another club during the off-season prior to the said contract being completed.

Under the new rules clubs can also make a formal complaint against each other if they believe the rules relating to negotiations with players have been broken, with fines of up to $100,000 to apply if the complaints are upheld.

While Geelong did nothing wrong in recently flying coach Chris Scott and players Joel Selwood and Jimmy Bartel to Adelaide to meet Travis Boak and try to convince him to join the Cats in 2013, with Scott's brother Brad also having spoken to him in Melbourne earlier this season, the Power were livid at the contact.

The maximum fine for failing to cooperate with AFL investigations into potential salary cap breaches has also been doubled but will only apply 'for serious offenders' rather than being mandatory.

Players will also be prevented from putting a price on their heads under free agency while at the same time coming to a side agreement with a rival club while rookie list rules have also been relaxed.

Previously, if a club wanted to nominate a player under the father-son rule it had to do so at the National Draft but now if the player is not chosen by another club at the draft he can be pre-selected at the Rookie Draft.

Similarly, clubs can now list one Irish player as one of up to three development rookies - like other international selections - rather than on the main rookie list.


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