Assistance for struggling Suns

Assistance for struggling Suns

THE AFL has handed Gold Coast the top two picks in this year’s draft as part of an “assistance package” for the struggling club.

The Suns already held the No.1 choice due to finishing at the bottom of the ladder but will now hold the first two selections, along with the first pick of the second round – currently pick 20.

Gold Coast will receive a mid-first round pick in the 2020 draft (currently pick 11) and the first pick of the second round (currently pick 19) in the 2021 draft.

The Suns will also receive expanded academy player access for the next three years, including the provision of the Darwin region as an academy zone, the ability to pre-sign the club’s academy players without going through the bidding zone and an increased rookie list of up to 10 players.

“There is no doubt the Gold Coast Suns have had enormous challenges throughout their short history and it is to the benefit of the entire competition that the Suns are competitive,” AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said in a statement.

“The AFL and football fans want a strong and even competition, and while the endeavour and intent can’t be faulted by the Gold Coast Football Club, there have been executional challenges along the journey that have impacted the on-field competitiveness of the team.”

Gold Coast is expected to take Victorian duo Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson with the first two selections in this year’s draft.

Every club’s selections will be pushed down the order as a result, with the 17th-placed Demons and Adelaide arguably the most affected.

The Crows hold Carlton’s first-round pick as part of a trade completed last year, with that selection now bumped down the order from No.3 to No.4.

The Suns welcomed the assistance package, which will also include support from the AFL in the form of operational and strategic services.

“As a result of the assistance outlined today, from a list point of view our absolute focus is the long-term list build which prioritises recruiting top-end elite talent,” chief executive Mark Evans said.

“Our list management team will now turn their heads to how we best use the assistance provided to capitalise on this in 2019 and beyond.

“Off the field we can add further resources to our football program in line with our strategy, ensuring our players and coaches are surrounded by the best possible people and programs which will have a positive impact on retaining and attracting players.”

© AAP 2019