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A Message from David Matthews

Dear members and fans, 

Thank you for your support throughout the 2018 season. It was a season we can all be proud of. To make finals for our third consecutive year was a very strong performance against a backdrop of significant injuries. And whilst we would like to have progressed further, we do believe we have the playing list and off-field personnel capable of challenging strongly in 2019 and the years ahead.

This time of year is a period of change for all 18 clubs in the AFL competition. The trade period saw some change for our club, with some long-serving players, in particular, moving on. We know such change is felt acutely by our members and fans, but rest assured we have secured some excellent outcomes for the short, medium and long-term success of the club.

We feel it’s important you have an insight into why some of the changes occur. Broadly speaking we are a unique club when compared to the other 17 AFL clubs, simply by virtue of the fact that we were set up seven years ago with unprecedented list rules. The major factors that have caused our player movement this trade period include:

- A highly talented list - arguably the best in the AFL - that needs to be remunerated appropriately
- Changes to our original list establishment rules over recent years, most notably the reduction in our list size and salary cap ahead of schedule
- The removal of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) affecting our player payments plan

Many of these list rules have been phased out over the past two to three years - well ahead of schedule - and in some cases, they have been removed despite an expectation they would always be in place. I believe we have done an excellent job adapting our list management strategy in accordance with these rule changes, in addition to retaining the vast majority of our list. We have been aggressively managing our salary cap for multiple seasons, but the reality is when you have in excess of $3 million removed from your salary cap in the space of 2-3 years, it’s inevitable some high calibre players would need to find new clubs.

We also have a group of players in a similar age bracket that are approaching the prime of their careers in terms of performance and earning capacity - they will also reach free agency at similar times. Should players leave through free agency, the club has no control on what compensation it will receive; which is why in some situations we have made the decision to facilitate a trade before a player is out of contract. When making decisions about trading players a range of factors are considered for each individual - such as injury history, salary cap impact, on-field opportunity etc - and although we’d obviously love to keep all our players, the AFL list management rules, salary cap mechanisms and free agency parameters make this simply impossible.  

The important thing to remember is that we have been focused on getting quality returns for our players and obtaining high draft picks to add more talent to our already outstanding list. We now have three first-round picks and four picks in the top 25 in the upcoming NAB AFL Draft which is an extremely strong hand. We look forward to heading to what is widely regarded as one of the strongest drafts in recent history with a host of selections to secure the next wave of GIANTS. And in the 2019 draft, we already have secured Essendon’s first-round pick, Carlton’s second-round pick, and Gold Coast’s fourth-round pick.

So, while the trade period can pose some challenges, it also provides us with a huge amount of opportunity and excitement and I couldn’t be more optimistic about our chances of success in 2019 and beyond. We have continued to set ourselves up for sustained success. We will enter 2019 with a strong culture and an outstanding playing list. 

Dylan Shiel, Tom Scully, Rory Lobb and Will Setterfield all depart with our best wishes. They have all been part of building this club and as such we will always consider them GIANTS.

Once again, thank you for your support in 2018, we can’t wait for the 2019 season to begin.

David Matthews, GIANTS CEO