ANOTHER AFLW off-season of player movement is upon us, and this time around things look a little different.
Last week the AFL introduced a unique Priority Signing Period (PSP) before the typical Trade and Sign period to assist the four expansion sides that joined the competition in season seven.
What this PSP means for the four new clubs - and the existing 14 - is a little confusing, so here's a quick rundown of its implications.
What is the difference between this PSP period and the Trade period?
The PSP, which will run from March 1-8, is specifically designed to assist the most recent expansion clubs - Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney - to build their lists by recruiting established players from the other 14 clubs without needing to trade.
Trade period, which will run from March 10-20, is for all clubs to shift players and picks as has happened in the past. So, if you're a Melbourne fan, you'll need to wait until at least March 10 to see any players added to your premiership list.
Are these PSP rules a permanent change to AFLW Trade period?
No. This is a one-off opportunity for Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney and not a permanent shift to the player movement landscape.
Why are last year's expansion clubs getting another free hit?
While other sides were given a full off-season to build their AFLW programs ahead of entry to the competition, the last four clubs were not afforded the luxury of time due to having two AFLW seasons in one year.
Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney had fewer than 14 weeks between officially being able to sign players and their inaugural game - just over three months to build an elite list to compete with established sides. This is less than half the time provided to the 2020 expansion sides - Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda, and West Coast - who had more than 37 weeks between first signing players and their first game.
I support one of the established clubs. Will my team lose players for nothing?
While it definitely hurts to see players leave your club, it won't be for nothing. Compensation will be provided to those sides who lose players via the PSP period in the form of draft picks. Those draft picks, however, will not be for this upcoming 2023 draft which will only include overage players. Instead, those compensation picks will be for the draft ahead of season nine, which arguably makes them more valuable.
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These compensation picks, which cannot be traded, will then be used to recruit young players coming straight out of the now unbroken talent pathways, just like Georgie Prespakis, Alyssa Bannan and Teah Charlton in drafts gone by.
When will we know what that compensation looks like?
Compensation will be decided by the AFLW List Committee upon the conclusion of the PSP.
Can just any player be taken via this PSP?
Players must have been on an AFLW list for at least three seasons to be eligible for recruitment via PSP. This includes players who have been inactive for a season, like Eliza McNamara who has been listed for three seasons but only active for two of those.
This restriction rules out high-profile teenagers like Charlie Rowbottom and Ella Roberts who were drafted in the last two seasons.
What about those players who signed two-year contracts recently?
If a player chooses to take an opportunity with an expansion club within the PSP rules, but is signed to a multi-year contract, they may break that contract without consequence.
How many players can my team lose during the PSP?
Where your team finished on the season seven ladder - after finals - dictates the number of players that can move via the upcoming PSP.
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The top four teams after finals - Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and North Melbourne - can lose up to five players. Clubs who finished from fifth to eighth - Richmond, Collingwood, Geelong, and the Western Bulldogs - can lose a maximum of two players via the PSP rules. All remaining clubs, including Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney, can lose just one player in this fashion. It is possible some clubs may lose no players at all.
How many players can my team recruit via the PSP?
Again, this number is dependent on where each expansion side finished on last season's ladder. Essendon can sign a maximum of two players, Hawthorn and Port Adelaide three each and Sydney five players. All four clubs will also be afforded a Secondary Relocation Reimbursement/Payment to these players if required.
Port Adelaide will also be allowed to sign one underage player during this time, while Sydney has been granted three additional list spots for season eight, and two for season nine. In addition, Sydney may offer five players contracts of a longer term than are currently permitted to other clubs.