Dear members, supporters and the wider Collingwood community,
First and foremost, I hope that you and your family are staying safe and well.
I am writing to you today to further explain our 2020 AFL trade period decisions.
Our club’s approach to the trade period has caused angst for a number of our members and fans. I understand this reaction, as not all that we are attempting to do has been obvious or well explained. We will continue to communicate with you, our members, in a number of ways to provide information and the opportunity for you to ask questions.
One of these opportunities will be provided through our annual Member Forum.
As you know we conduct this event each year and this year’s forum will occur at some stage after the AFL Draft. The timing is not confirmed as we are looking for a COVID safe way to hold the meeting. Our hope is that we can conduct this meeting in person at the Holden Centre. If this is not possible, we will conduct the forum online. All of our key people will be in attendance to provide information and answer our member’s questions.
Before I delve into the detail of the trade period, I’d like to take a moment to personally thank Adam Treloar, Tom Phillips, Jaidyn Stephenson and Atu Bosenavulagi for their contribution to our club. I wish them the very best for the future. They have each made a very real contribution to our club.
Competing in an elite sport presents a unique challenge for clubs; the pursuit of excellence is rightly demanded by members, fans, coaches and the like, but the special relationships formed between players and fans is also something to be valued. This makes the departure of any player a difficult and emotional one – whether through trade, delisting, or retirement. We understandthis acutely. It happens every year.
Many members are wanting to understand the strategy behind our various trade decisions.
We are all proud of the regeneration of the team that has seen us play AFL finals in each of the last three years. As you know we made a Grand Final appearance in 2018, lost in a Preliminary Final in 2019 and this year bowed out in the Semi Finals. We believed that we could stay in and around the mark for some time but knew that to maximise our opportunity to win the premiership and build a sustainable future really difficult decisions were required.
Multiple factors played into our decision to release the four players.
Salary cap pressure was certainly a key part of the decision. This is common for teams in premiership contention and even for some who are not. Financial sacrifices were made to keep the list together but this could not be the ongoing solution. With a further reduction every club’s salary cap about to come due to the impacts due to COVID, this situation was going to be exacerbated.
Another was the anticipated evolution of the team. We expect to improve from within. Our program has done a wonderful job in developing a number of exciting and talented young players ready to assume more control of the team: Quaynor, Daicos, Sier, Kelly, Keane and Cal and Tyler Brown to name a few. These players have shown much promise over recent seasons, and we are very much looking forward to seeing each of them become regular features in our best 22.
Being realistic about the future was also something we felt was required.Despite the fantastic Elimination Final win only a few weeks ago in Perth, we fell well short in our Semi-Final against the Cats the following week. The unflattering result was not a reflection of our season but it could not be ignored, either.
As Collingwood GM of Football, Geoff Walsh, said a short time later: “We were a fair way off in the last game of 2020.That shows us we need to get better and improve our list. The best way to improve your list is via the draft”.
Of course, the other method is via trading and free agency. To be blunt, we found ourselves in a bind: we were without realistic access to the free agency market with our salary cap being at its limit. We have had quality players expressing interest in coming to our club, interest we could not realistically pursue due to our cap limitations.
This could not continue and so some tough and, frankly, painful decisions had to be made.
As List Manager Ned Guy has suggested, the outcome of the 2020 trade period is far from the end of our quest for immediate improvement and we are confident of taking an even stronger hand than we currently have to next month’s AFL national draft.
We are extremely excited by the prospect of bringing two first round draftees to Collingwood in 2021, something we have not done since drafting Jordan De Goey and Darcy Moore in the top 10 of the 2014 draft. Because of the talent at the top end of this year’s draft, this is one our recruiting team want to be in.
Further, with the salary cap relief created, we can aggressively attack the free agency market from next year on if we so wish.
All that being said, I am aware that many members will still hold a different perspective. We not only respect this - we value it. Within any high-performance environment it’s vital to be challenged, and it’s equally as important for our members to be heard. We know that the feedback being directed to the club comes from a place of great passion and care, not only for the club as a whole but for our players as well.
As Ned and Geoff have noted, the club has a certain level of responsibility to players and their management when discussing specifics with regards to potential trades, but it’s our responsibility to you – our members – that we explore ways in which we can take action based on your feedback.
We do not shy away from the responsibility that comes with these decisions. Ned, Geoff and other members of the recruiting and list management team made the tough calls for the right reasons and in the very best interest of our team and club. I absolutely respect their judgement and have the utmost confidence in their ability to reshape our list, open up new possibilities for growth and build off the plan that has been established.
We are working across every area of our club and football department to get better and as such, we all await the start of the 2021 season with much anticipation. As stated at the opening, we will continue to communicate with you as we lead into the national draft and beyond, as we build towards round one. Your support is greatly valued.
Chief Executive Officer