The pre-season draft is conducted in mid December, after the National Draft and before the following AFL season. It is intended for uncontracted players that missed out on selection in the national draft or those who were delisted after the national draft to still get a spot on the main list. The selection order is arranged in reverse order of finish for the most recent season.
It was first held in 1989 and has significantly decreased in importance over it’s duration – in it’s first 5 years there was an average of 50 selections, in the last five years (since 2008) there have been an average of 8 selections total , with many clubs not participating by choosing to they fill their list spots in the national draft (only clubs with vacant list spots must and can participate).
The PSD draft as it is now, is generally comprised of a number of recycled players and a few U18 or untried mature age players that missed out on selection in the National draft.
The AFL does not adopt a free agency model to easily move between clubs so uncontracted players may nominate for the national draft or pre-season draft to find a new club. This lack of free agency can be used as a bargaining tool in trade week dealings as the team with the first available pick can refuse a trade for a targeted uncontracted player from another club that wants to join their team and recruit that player with the first selection in the pre-season draft leaving the club of the uncontracted player with no compensation – this can also force a team to trade the uncontracted player for less than true market value.
A reason for players not to nominate for the National draft but instead to only nominate for the PSD is that they may set terms for their contract, however for the National draft they are not able to do this (contract periods and salaries are predetermined – generally based on the round or selection number the player is drafted with).
Eligible players include:
> Any player who nominated for the corresponding national draft
> Any player from overseas (e.g. Martin Clarke 2006)
> Any player who has previously been on an AFL list but has been delisted by their club
> Any player who has previously been on an AFL list but was not on an AFL list for the just completed season
Ineligible players include:
> Any player who hasn’t been on an AFL list unless they nominated for the corresponding national draft
> Contracted AFL players not released by their club
> Anyone that doesn’t turn at least 18 in the year of the draft