Thursday finally sees the AFL’s ‘trade period’ come to a close, after weeks of speculation, scuttlebutt and innuendo.
As always, the period has been scarce on deals done, leaving many wondering why it is such a drawn-out affair.
The AFL’s intentions are clear and simple: the longer it goes, the longer the headlines.
Believe it or not, the current near-fortnight ‘trade period’ was once even longer, stretching three weeks when free agency was introduced five years ago.
In its current state, not much happens for the first week-and-a-half bar endless speculation.
It makes life difficult for players who have their futures on the line and, as they wait, every man and his dog adds to the talk.
“You’re up in the air, you’re not 100 per cent sure, you don’t know if your name’s being thrown around,” former St Kilda, Hawthorn and Sydney ruckman Peter Everitt told The New Daily of the trade period.
“Sometimes you hear speculation on the radio and in the paper, and then the club tells you differently.
“It’s a really tough time for the players because it’s mid-October.
“If you’re a young player you start training in three weeks and sometimes that three weeks could be interstate over the other side of the country.”
Everitt is one of many who thinks the trade period could be shortened.
“Most clubs know what they want, who they want to get rid of, who’s going to be on the market,” he said.
“Most clubs have spoken to each other before it even starts. So why extend it out?
“They should make it short and sharp and, you know what, the clubs will get it done.”
Former Sydney stalwart Ted Richards, who spent 11 seasons at the Swans after five years at Essendon, is more equivocal.
“I think you’re within your rights to say it goes on for too long because 80 per cent of trades are done within the last day or two, it seems,” Richards told The New Daily.
“But these deals do take time and conversations need to be had because we’re talking about players’ quality of life, having to move interstate and shift their families around, and these decisions can’t be made in just 24 hours.”
The veteran of 261 AFL games says the relentless media coverage, coupled with rumours and opinions on social media, does make it harder for players.
“There is a lot of noise because it feels like there’s not too much sport going on at the moment,” he said.
“I do feel for players more so that are seeking a trade because they’re out of contract, and if the trade doesn’t go through they might be out of football next year.
“There are some great stories of players that don’t get opportunities at one team and seek a trade to another team where they take their career to another level.
“Unfortunately, there are trades where the player is happy to stay but is told that his opportunities will cease unless he moves, or it’s salary cap, list management, or other reasons.
“Players’ names can be thrown up without too much notice.”
Everitt had a long, nervous wait – twice.
“My deal when I went from St Kilda to Hawthorn got done with five minutes to go,” he recalled. “[Then] I missed the deadline when I was at Hawthorn.
“They didn’t do the trade to Sydney and then you’re playing a year at a footy club where you’ve said you want to leave.
“It’s getting harder and harder for the players and it’s a tough emotional time for all involved.”