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AFL urged to deny academy tweaks from 'whingeing Vics'

3 minute read

Greg Swann, CEO of the Brisbane Lions, has called on the AFL to stand firm despite unhappy Victorian clubs pitching for changes to northern academies.

Brisbane Lions chief executive Greg Swann has urged the AFL to resist pestering from "whingeing" Victorian clubs about the talent academies, labelling Gold Coast's draft bounty as "freakish".

The AFL is facing increased pressure from several clubs to overhaul the academy system after the Suns were the big winners in last week's national draft.

Triple Richmond premiership coach Damien Hardwick's new club were able to select highly rated academy products Jed Walter (pick three), Jake Rogers (nine), Ethan Read (15) and Will Graham (26) in the first round of the draft.

Under current rules, clubs outside Queensland and NSW are powerless to stop rivals from poaching their Next Generation Academy (NGA) players if a bid is placed inside the first 40 draft picks.

Conversely, northern clubs can match a bid on their academy players no matter when it comes on draft night.

Swann, who formerly ran Victorian juggernauts Collingwood and Carlton, has stuck up for the Lions' Queensland rivals.

"I'm a bit bemused, the carry on about the academies," he told SEN on Wednesday.

"It was pretty freakish for the Suns.

"To say, 'This is a disgrace, look at what's happened'. They got four (players) in one year. It's a bit freakish.

"But if you look at the history of (the Suns') academy, it's not rivers of gold."

Changes to the system were floated by Victorian clubs, as well as wooden-spooners West Coast, before the end of the second night of the draft.

But, as Hardwick had outlined on Tuesday, Swann insisted the northern academies were vital for the growth of AFL in Queensland and NSW.

"The Vics will whinge and carry on so they'll put pressure on," Swann said.

"Logic says that if we keep growing the code and there's more and more kids play and our academies get better and better, then it it might happen again, or it might happen every second year, and then that's probably going to create problems.

"But this is a little bit of an anomaly and people are carrying on a bit much just because of one draft."

Swann also revealed the Lions had to fork out about $120,000 to cover the cost of flying the families of players to Melbourne for September's AFL grand final.

Their four-point defeat to Collingwood in the decider came in only Brisbane's third match at the MCG in 2023, compared to the Magpies' 17th appearance.

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