AFL boss Andrew Demetriou has balked at providing more assistance to battlers Brisbane Lions, saying more on-field success will avoid an off-field exodus.
AFL boss Andrew Demetriou has balked at assisting the Brisbane Lions with a player retention allowance, saying more wins will avoid another off-field exodus at the battling AFL club.
However, Demetriou admitted he could not see the Lions reversing their on-field fortunes any time soon.
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd has already predicted the Lions will be “in a world of pain” in 2014 and claimed Brisbane players “did not look happy” after a tumultuous off-season.
Apart from a Lions’ boardroom stoush that erupted over coach Michael Voss’s shock sacking, new mentor Justin Leppitsch inherited a squad trying to stave off another serious bout of player homesickness.
Billy Longer (St Kilda), Jared Polec (Port Adelaide), Sam Docherty (Carlton), Elliot Yeo (West Coast) and Patrick Karnezis (Collingwood) all requested and received trades in the off-season.
Lions champion Jonathan Brown hinted that a retention allowance would assist the club despite insisting the five players left for various reasons.
“I think we’re one of the clubs that needs equalisation because we’re a small market team,” told Channel Nine’s Footy Classified.
“The basic fact of the matter is we’re a small club so we’re always going to have off-field issues.”
The Lions also face another major headache – they have until June to secure government funding for their proposed $60 million training base at Springfield west of Brisbane.
But Demetriou balked when asked if the Lions needed further assistance.
“The good thing about the academies particularly in Queensland is that the Lions and Suns get first grab at locals,” he said of avoiding the “go home” factor at Brisbane.
“(And) when teams are winning they keep players.
“We didn’t see too many players leaving Brisbane when they were winning the premierships (from 2001-3).
“And it won’t be too long in this cycle of equalisation that they will be competitive and be in finals.”
But Demetriou could not see a short term on-field fix for the Lions.
“They are working on the issue of Springfield. And we’ve put some measures in place, there’s a new board, a new coach, we’ve put a financial injection into the club – we want them to succeed,” he said.
“They are going to find it hard in the first 12 months to turn it around with every club with their foot on the pedal as well.”
Meanwhile, Demetriou predicted Lions’ rivals Gold Coast Suns would make their finals debut in 2014.
“They are not that far away. The optimist in me says they will probably make it,” he said.