The league beat me to the punch on equalisation, requiring a rewrite of this rant. Whilst I think the plan to facilitate a war chest for the struggling clubs, I don’t think it goes quite far enough. The topic sparked my interest listening with bemusement to one of the gabfests on Saturday with a commentator lamenting the difference in the Collingwood compared to Footscray and indicating that either the Pies were underpaid or the Dogs are overpaid. This buffoon gets paid to offer opinion he could at least understand the rules in which clubs operate, the truth lies in the fact they have little choice in what they pay. The salary cap per club with a couple of notable exceptions is $9,630,000 and each club must pay at least $9,148,500 (95%) of it to their players irrespective of their quality or performance. For the sake of the argument lets look at the two clubs in question and their respective merits at this stage of the season. Collingwood have won 70% of their games compared to the Dogs 30%, Footscray are compelled to pay its team which appears 50% less competent than the Collingwood at least 95% of what the Pies pay out! Of course there will be Dogs, Dees, Blues, Tigers, Lions and more being wildly overpaid, their clubs have no choice!
The 95% floor is too restrictive and is one of the key reasons why equalisation is not working and why the proposed war chest for 2 years is not enough. The amount is not enough and the time frame too short. At the moment lesser clubs do not have the opportunity to bid for the guns because they have lesser players tied to poor value contracts. The bigger clubs also have the attraction of more external commercial opportunities. I am not proposing that the lesser performing clubs should be able to pay unders, however I am proposing that they should be able to pay their list at a value more closely commensurate with the capability and performance of their team but with twist. The money they save is not made accessible to club operations but is allocated to a slush fund they can draw on above the salary cap ceiling in the following three seasons to attract talent.
But back to the Pies and the Dogs! We can assume Collingwood will justifiably have no change from the $9.63M, but what if the Dogs were able restrict its payments to 80% of the amount. This would leave almost an extra $2M over the next 3 seasons to help attract talent and genuinely make the climb up the ladder without having their best players being raided by the top clubs. Significantly better that the $480K over two available under the recent announcement. The long term effect being that clubs could afford to create player contracts based on meritocracy with the better performing clubs paying close to the limit, and lesser clubs paying less but building resources to be able to attract better players. Then one day Footscray just might pay more than the Pies and swap their positions on the ladder. Whilst I do not envisage the AFLPA doing handstands about this proposal in return they can have their wish for clean free agency with no compensation picks and we might finally get to the socialist competition Vlad has desired for so long. For that matter so have many of the fans.
We are half way there and it pretty much looks like the finalists are set but there are still nine games for decision.
Swans Sung ($1.20) vs These Bootsma Made for Walking ($5.70)
Blue fans watched in horror on Thursday night as Sydney dished out a hiding to Geelong knowing what will be awaiting them this week. The horror was amplified on Saturday when their team went under to Brisbane at the Gabba. Much bleating even even in the media about the umpiring, but what a crock of bollocks! They did not turn up to play – again – and got their just desserts. But this week the Cats will be smarting as should the Blues however recent history demonstrates which playing group shows more pride in its performance. At the selection table the Cats bring back a couple of cornerstones of defence in Enright and Lonergan, meanwhile for the Blues confusion continues to reign with Dylan Buckley making way for a more senior but more limited player. Maybe the young blokes should be sending Mick pictures of themselves so he knows who they are! The Blues have bothered Geelong occasionally with pace and that might present some chance, but I can’t see the Cats allowing that to occur and will get back on track.
Oh Cyril ($1.23) vs Just Coasting ($4.80)
The effort of West Coast against Collingwood fooled some of us, but they were so completely uncompetitive against North. Which one will turn up against Hawthorn? I suspect they will bounce back, but they are playing at York Park where the Hawks have only lost once since June 2010. As vulnerable as Hawthorn are with injuries, the island fortress will be too tough for the Eagles to counter.
Hartlettness ($1.04) vs Are we Finnissed yet? ($21.00)
Port get three of their best 22 back, whereas the Saints continue to juggle the team around as new CEO Matt Finniss looks to plan for the future with an even younger playing list as their champs approach the end of their careers. Port to win.
Western Who? ($1.39) vs West where? ($3.50)
While the team from the argue of their relevance the team from the north lose their West in yet another blow to the season. The Dogs are relevant and especially to their loyal following, however whilst being competitive in games they do need to put a win or two on the board. I expect them to this week against the Lions, who do have a reasonable team selected but i reckon they need to be at the Gabba to win.
Not in the Hunt ($6.40) vs Back in the Hunt? ($1.18)
While Josh Hunt might not be too interested in the the Giants, they sure did put in a great effort against the champs. This week they face the Bombers who again look like the team most likely to take a place in the eight, they certainly have one of their strongest line ups selected and will be too good for GWS.
Wharfies ($1.23) vs Back to the Barossa ($4.70)
A win over the Suns had the Adelaide fans back on the good stuff for the week, but they have a massive challenge heading to Perth to face Fremantle. Very hard to select the Crows with their Jekyll and Hyde form where as Get Stuffed Lyon has the Dockers playing consistently and back restricting opposition scoring opportunities. In fact I can’t – Freo to win.
Hunt back in? ($4.40) vs No Reg No ($1.28)
Karmichael Hunt is a chance to get back in the Suns line up, not sure it is ideal game to return for as they face this week’s premiership fancy. The Swans celebrate 150 games for Heath Grundy which must frighten The Sage. They will present a stern test for everyone and this is a test that Bluey and his lads should embrace to genuinely measure their progress. The Sydney forward line is frightening, but the Suns are not slouches either. But the entire defensive set of Sydney and particularly in the midfield is where they get their advantage and have been the stingiest team all year. The midfield contest is extremely appetising pitting the Sydney bulls up against Gazza and his charges. This promises to be a very interesting game, but I suspect the Swans will have too many guns and march onward to victory.
Hard to Swallow ($1.32) vs Bargain Telco ($4.00)
A great effort and comeback from Andrew Swallow who makes the 150 milestone. The Tiges have spouted “talk is cheap” more than an Indian Call Centre selling phone connections, it will come to the fore on Sunday Night against the Kangas. Who despite the odd poor showing have been consistent enough and bounced back well from the poor ones. After the Darryl John Kerrigan games last week Richmond really need to do the same. They promised big changes – whilst there are four at the moment they are all due to injury. Not sure any big names will be paying the price. On form there is no way I can select Richmond, but these are the types of games they bounce up for and North put in a huge effort last week so they might present fair betting value at $4 but I suspect the Roos will prevail.
No Go Zone ($5.30) vs Cleansweep ($1.22)
With the potential inclusion of Broomhead the Pies could sweep the Dees off the G. Interesting to hear Paul Roos reaction to the idea of player zones – not sure he should be commenting, he is probably the primary reason for the discussion. But with that he has made Melbourne very competitive and they have their annual Grand Final this week. I can see them being competitive again, but I have a suspicion they might put in a shocker as they have been “up” for a while now. Pies to win.
The biggest day of racing in Brisbane is set for decision on Saturday but it under the threat of inclement weather. It is a fantastic program littered with good races and 3 group one events. They kick off with the JJ Atkins (G1, 1600m, 2yo SW) which stretches the babies out a mile. Brazen Beau (1) looks the one to beat but will be pretty short, for some better value Looks Like the Cat (5) was not too far behind him last start and is better drawn. Time for War (2) was also right amongst it and alway beware of Gai who brings the 2 from 2 Almalad (9) up from Sydney. The Sheikh’s Mohave (4) and Careless (7) are at longer odds but both finished well in the Sires Produce.
Selections Race 6 – 1-5–2-9
The Queensland Derby (G1, 2400m, 3yo SW) is the last of the classics for this crop and Vilanova (1) has been in terrific form and looks well suited winning the Grand Prix. Plenty of dangers but I am going with a couple of closers in the Grand Prix and one from the Oaks who rattled home. Pinstripe Lane (4) and Auberge (15) were a few lengths off Vilanova but finished off well and in the Oaks Rock Diva (16) came from last at the 400m mark to finish 4th. Again plenty of others to consider but you can’t have them all.
Selections Race 7 – 1-4-16-15
The main event is the Stradbroke Handicap (G1, 1400m, HCP) and we’d love the Boom Boom quinella to salute again, but once again looking down in the weights for these big handicaps. Srikandi (17) stands out at the foot of the weights and is flying, Hucklebuck (18) is undefeated second up and must rate a chance. Impossible to leave out the Boom Brothers – provided the track is dry Spirit of Boom (1) from the better draw is the pick but if rain effected then Temple of Boom (5) rates a fair bet. But a terrific race with many other hopes and always wary of Darley who have three runners.
Selections Race 8 – 17-18-1-5
The meeting and carnival closes with the devalued Brisbane Cup (G2, 2400m, HCP) - down to group 2 and back to a mile and a half – I love the 2 milers no matter what the field is like. This is small field and plenty of these have question marks and since I love the nostalgia of the Boom Brothers I am keen on Bart’s old boy Precedence (2) to turn the tables on Zephyron (5). Ciaran Maher could complete a big day with Mr O’Ceirin (4) and CJ Waller’s Moriarty (1) is a consistent performer.
Selections Race 9 – 2-5-4-1
In this case 4 legs good, 3 legs bad! But with that many G1s a quaddie is in order. The shorty in the first leg provides some questions on strategy – it will be a split quaddie going favourite in the first leg and spreading the other quaddie.
Q1 – Get Shorty
100 combinations so a $15 investment will return 15% of the dividend
Q2 – Spread the first leg – but skinnier in 2, 3, 4
108 Cominations, $15 investment returns 13.9% of the dividend.
No Friar time this week with the Ammo’s taking time off for the long weekend. But a mention to Gemma’s footy – MGGS have finished their 5 game season and no doubt participation was the key. Having said that teams did have their share of handy players so girl’s/women’s footy is alive and well – and particularly so with the appointment of Peta Searle to the St Kilda coaching panel. I hope she has a great career forging a path for others in the game.
And finally we may never see “Doc” Neeson’s face again, but some great times live on for those of us who grew up listening to The Angels – RIP