Franklin “Drama” A Storm In A Teacup

For all those who read Melbourne papers or went to Australian sporting websites over the last 24 hours you may have noticed that Hawthorn superstar Buddy Franklin has ceased contract negotiations with the Hawthorn Football club until the end of this season. It seems many pundits believe that this could be the beginning of the end for the stars stay in Melbourne’s east. Could huge paychecks at other clubs await? Has he achieved all he can at the Hawks? But just for sanity’s sake, lets all calm down for a moment.
Hawks CEO Stuart Fox took to the clubs website to write directly to supporters on the issue.
“Lance has indicated he would like to delay discussion on his contract to the end of the 2013 season,” Fox wrote.
“The club accepts Lance is within his rights to proceed this way and we will continue to work towards retaining him within the structure of our talented playing list by keeping an open dialogue with Lance and his manager.
“Both the club and its members must be prepared to acknowledge this situation is part of a new football landscape under free agency.”
Whist some are pronouncing doom and gloom for Hawks supporters as this September ends, lets just look at this from a broader perspective.
Buddy is already a superstar of the game. In his 7 years as a professional footballer he has a resume equal to many of the games greats.
he has played 160 games, scored 517 goals, has been Hawthorn’s leading goal kicker every year since entering the league and has won the Coleman Medal for leading goal kicker in the entire competition twice.
He is also a 27 year old who is coming to the end of his contract. He is trying to set himself up for life after football as well as the present day.
Admittedly the situation is not ideal for the Hawthorn Football Club but worst comes to worst they have one of the greatest and most exciting players in the AFL on their list for one more year.
Anyone who has lived off contract work knows that when the times comes to discuss terms of a future contract you hope that you are in a position of leverage.
Now Buddy coming into these talks could be said to have had a pretty strong hand. Multiple award winner, has premiership medallion and constantly part of the games elite since he donned the number 23. Not only that, his team came so close to winning their second flag of his playing career.
But just imagine his value, not only in terms of money, but in terms of the legacy of a football club if he leads them back to the promised land, wins that second premiership and maybe even a Norm Smith Medal.
At the end of the day the only people who know the true reasons for this sudden cease in contract talks is Buddy himself and his agent Liam Pickering.
Pickering has somewhat of a history in his star clients trading jerseys, most notably Gary Ablett leaving Geelong for the newly established Gold Coast Suns.
The closer we get to the end of the season we get without word from the Franklin camp, the more we should start to worry. But in pre-season? I wouldn’t be too concerned as a Hawks fan.
These things take time, patient negotiations. they can start and stop many times. As long as in the end, there is a name on the dotted line. If Buddy starts the season in All-Australian form again, you can expect contract talks to heat up once again.
Lets all remember another key forward last season who was in almost the same position, Travis Cloke.
He got big offers from several clubs as well, many of the same clubs which are being mentioned as possible destinations for Franklin, but chose to stay with the Magpies.
Just like the Magpies, the Hawks are in the middle of a premiership window, they have a list capable of going deep into September for years to come.
Buddy means a lot to the Hawks. Whether he leaves or not there will be a mark on the supporters for years.
But if he stays, he could leave the game not just an icon of the club, but the entire AFL.
Mathew Langdon

February 10th 2013
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