Talks to clear air over player contract issues

THE controversial player contract issue angering Hampden football league clubs will be discussed at a meeting in Melbourne today.

AFL Western District region general manager Lachy Patterson will take the concerns of clubs to a meeting with his counterparts from across the state.

Clubs are seething they have no hold on recruits who sign contracts with them in the three months before clearances open on February 1, meaning players can back out of deals until they are formally registered.

Warrnambool signed former Maskell Medal winner Rhys Raymond (pictured) when he returned from a stint in Geelong. But Raymond last week had a change of heart, signed with Warrnambool and District league club Merrivale and his clearance was approved.

Earlier this week The Standard revealed key forward Robbie Hare, who had signed a contract with South Warrnambool in October after leaving Terang Mortlake, had walked away in favour of joining another Hampden league side Port Fairy.

Both Warrnambool and South Warrnambool were powerless to stop the players leaving because the pair had not been registered with them.

Patterson yesterday revealed country Victorian football chiefs had never heard of such issues until the two cases in a week in the Hampden league.

He said calls to open the registration period earlier than February 1 would be raised.

But he said the October 31 expiration of contracts was nationwide set by the AFL. The three-month gap to the opening of new registrations was in line with expectations community football was not a 12-month sport.

Patterson said clubs and leagues had wanted the gap to ensure less work for voluntary and part-time administrators.

He said the two instances in the past week highlighted that while players could make commitments, they were not legally binding until they had been cleared after February 1.

Hampden league chief executive officer Mike Farrow said the issue was raised at a club forum on Monday night. He said clubs wanted the issue clarified.

“If it does stand up the way it is, a lot of people could be running around wasting their time to get contracts signed if the rule says what it says,” he said.

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