Kerry Packer once famously thundered that anyone who didn’t try to minimise their tax needed to have their heads read.
The deceased billionaire would have loved the ruse that Sydney pulled off on Thursday night at the AFL draft.
In a complicated AFL version of tax avoidance, the Swans effectively reduced the price they had to pay to recruit their highly-rated academy player Nick Blakey.
The AFL approved the complicated two-part plan – meaning it was avoidance, which is legal, not evasion, which is illegal.
Sydney started round one of the draft with two certainties – that they were very keen to secure Blakey, the son of two-time North Melbourne premiership player and long-time Swans assistant coach John Blakey.
Secondly, because Blakey is from Sydney’s player academy and is highly-rated, they would have to match a bid from a rival club to draft him.
What no-one could have foreseen was how they would lessen the cost of matching that rival bid.
The ploy started just before pick seven, when Sydney became the first club to use the AFL’s new live trading of draft picks.
In a move which had onlookers scratching their heads and wondering “why?”, the Swans traded pick 26 to West Coast in exchange for a future third-round pick.
At round 10, GWS duly made a bid for Blakey and the Swans matched it, meaning Sydney had their player.
Then, the Swans did another live trade with the Eagles, who gave up pick 22 in exchange for a future second-round pick.
The genius of the ploy was two-fold – first, the Swans had reduced the draft “tax” they had to pay for Blakey, because they didn’t have pick 26 at the time they matched the GWS bid for him.
Instead, they gave up picks 34, 39 and 40 to thwart the Giants.
Then, after the second trade with West Coast, they also improved four spots in draft order when it resumes from noon on Friday.
And best of all, it had the AFL’s approval.
Blockbuster trade shakes up AFL Draft
The AFL draft will continue on Friday with industry insiders and fans alike still trying to figure out who ‘won’ the blockbuster Carlton-Adelaide trade that dominated day one.
The Blues claimed Geelong Falcons star Sam Walsh with the No.1 pick at Marvel Stadium, but it was their bombshell trade with the Crows that stole the show.
With live trading in effect for the first time, Carlton shipped next year’s first-round pick to Adelaide, who gave up pick No.19 on Thursday night and their own first-round pick next year.
Blues list boss Stephen Silvagni pulled the trigger on the risky trade to take Sandringham Dragons midfielder Liam Stocker.
If Carlton struggle again next year and Adelaide bounce back into the finals, the deal will be a steal for the Crows.
The SA club could conceivably win the flag and have the No.1 pick at the 2019 draft if the Blues take the wooden spoon again.
“That’s all speculation – what happens if we finish on top of the Crows? It is what it is,” Silvagni said.
“The season will take care of itself and what we do know is we’re really happy to bring a good player through the door.
“… This is going to happen more and more – if you travel to the (United) States, this happens a lot.
“I’m comfortable, because I know I’ve got a good player.”
The top-10 picks
1. Carlton: Sam Walsh (midfielder, Geelong Falcons)
2. Gold Coast: Jack Lukosius (forward, Woodville-West Torrens)
3. Gold Coast: Izak Rankine (midfielder/forward, West Adelaide)
4. St Kilda: Max King (tall forward, Sandringham)
5. Port Adelaide: Connor Rozee (forward/midfielder, North Adelaide)
6. Gold Coast: Ben King (key position player, Sandringham)
7. Western Bulldogs: Bailey Smith (midfielder, Sandringham)
8. North Melbourne: Tarryn Thomas (midfielder, North Launceston)
9. Adelaide: Chayce Jones (midfielder, Launceston)
10. Sydney: Nick Blakey (forward, Sydney academy)