Ron Joseph says the Suns are a disaster. Pic: AAP
Ron Joseph says the Suns are a disaster. Pic: AAP

Clubs must fight Suns ‘disaster’: Joseph

LEGENDARY administrator Ron Joseph has savaged the AFL's near-certain awarding of a priority pick to the flailing Gold Coast Suns.

A day after the $200 million expansion club pitched a plan for fresh emergency concessions, Joseph called on rival clubs to unite and block the gifting of draft picks one and two.

"The resuscitation of the Suns will go on for another 20 years until the AFL wakes up and realises that the Gold Coast is a beach resort - not a fanatical football town," Joseph said.

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"How much more is it going to cost to make the Suns successful? And at what cost to the 17 other clubs?

"The Gold Coast experiment has been a disaster and it's time for the clubs to hold the AFL to account."

But Joseph, an AFL life member who served as a club boss at North Melbourne and the Swans for more than 40 years, said rival clubs were "too financially beholden" on the league to oppose a raft of draft and salary cap concessions being considered for the Suns.

"The AFL established this club and now they are prostituting their own rules to prop it up," he said.


"And they can get away with it because the clubs are too frightened to speak up.

"Don't the AFL realise that every club wants to win the premiership?

"Awarding priority picks comes at the expense of every other club busting its gut to be successful for its own loyal memberships.

"The only person that will stand up and argue these issues today is (Hawthorn president) Jeff Kennett.

"Eddie McGuire will stand up for the first five minutes, but then he'll have lunch with the AFL."

Joseph called for the sacking of the current AFL commission and the appointment of experienced footy figures such as Brian Cook, Leigh Matthews, Kennett and Richard Colless.

"There's four people to start with that you'd like to see running the affairs of the AFL and sorting the mess out," Joseph said.

"Get rid of the commission and get some ... football smarts back in there."

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and league broadcasting boss Travis Auld also played major roles in the creation of the Suns.

"The mistakes that are being continually made at the AFL are a disgrace," Joseph said.

Joseph, 74, was on the North Melbourne board when the AFL attempted to push the Kangaroos to the Gold Coast 12 years ago.

"We had plenty of North Melbourne champions who wanted to go to the Gold Coast, don't worry," Joseph said.

"They saw the green in the AFL's eyes when (Andrew) Demetriou was pushing $200 million at us to get up there.

"Now some of those same people are pointing the club in the direction of Tasmania."

Travis Auld and Gillon McLachlan played a part in the creation of the Suns. Pic: Getty Images
Travis Auld and Gillon McLachlan played a part in the creation of the Suns. Pic: Getty Images


It is the Gold Coast doom loop that the AFL Commission must close with a pre-draft priority pick.

Gold Coast use the second overall pick in the 2012 draft to secure Jack Martin then lose him after an unfulfilled career for a likely late first-rounder.

They take Jack Scrimshaw at pick 7 in the 2016 draft, then see him depart for the ultimate steak-knives pick as he thrives at Hawthorn.

Next year they will go into the season aware every single club is massing their forces to try to drag out-of-contract pair Ben King and Jack Lukosius out of Gold Coast at the end of 2020.

King kicked three bags of three or more goals in the last five games and looks a budding superstar, and colleague Jon Anderson believes Lukosius moves like a young Anthony Koutoufides.

So how does the AFL break the cycle?

By giving the Suns the best possible chance to be successful in 2020 before the latest batch of high draftees jump ship.

Former Gold Coast defender Campbell Brown believes they need mature-age talent as much as kids but told the Herald Sun urgent intervention is needed.

Rival clubs are watching Ben King, Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine — the future of the Suns. Pic: AAP
Rival clubs are watching Ben King, Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine — the future of the Suns. Pic: AAP

"They are very much irrelevant. How many quality players are going to walk out the door and then you look at GWS who were able to retain Josh Kelly last year and now they have managed to retain Coniglio?

"It just becomes demoralising. They really need mature-age bodies or guys like Sam Walsh, who can come in and make an early impact."

The current batch of top-10 picks includes Izak Rankin, King, Lukosius, Ben Ainsworth, Will Brodie, Jack Bowes and Callum Ah Chee.

They could easily turn into the next generation of Tom Lynch, Steven May, Josh Caddy, Harley Bennell, Charlie Dixon, Dion Prestia, Kade Kolodjashnij and Adam Saad without AFL intervention.

The past 24 hours has been a stark comparison, as Stephen Coniglio signed on at expansion club GWS and Ah Chee and Jack Martin asked for Gold Coast trades.

What the Suns believe is that securing pick two is a retention play as much as adding to their talent.

Allowing them to secure best mates and nominal top-two picks Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell maximises their chances of being lifelong Suns.

In turn it gives the Suns the best chance of competitiveness immediately, which helps King and Lukosius re-sign at some stage next year.

But if the Suns win another three games next year and King is offered a Tom Boyd-style sum by a Melbourne club, what do you think he would do?

If you follow the money you see why the league could actually intervene.

The Suns-Gold Coast match on Saturday drew a Fox Footy audience of just 45,000 people - in a year where ratings are sky-high the Suns are dragging down the league at a time when Gill McLachlan is about to start negotiating the new TV deal.

Melbourne has complained about the impact of a priority pick on selections traded into the future but every club trades future picks knowing they could change drastically based on ladder positions, as Carlton and Adelaide know full well.

Melbourne also asked for priority picks in 2013 and 2014 and secured Steven May through the trickle-down effect of priority pick Tom Scully, traded for Jesse Hogan, traded for May.

It is hypocritical of them to suddenly suggest the Suns don't need help.

The AFL intervened by helping Melbourne pay for Paul Roos to help turn the club upside down, and now needs the draft's most radical intervention for a decade for the ailing Suns.