The recruitment of Irish players by the AFL could be drastically curtailed as Aussie Rules clubs look to slash expenditure.
The AFL is currently trying to pick its way through the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen all action grind to a halt after round one of the new season.
And with no games to generate revenue, the sports's top brass have already secured a line of credit worth around AUS $600 million (€340 million) to keep their clubs afloat.
However, with the league Down Under officially suspended until June and with a return in July or August thought to be much more likely, clubs are looking at ways to reduce their outgoings.
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Players' wages have already been cut in half with a further reduction likely depending on when action returns, while it's thought that teams will carry smaller rosters and do less international recruiting which is expensive.
Website foxsports.com reported that one national recruiting boss stated that “he doesn’t think anyone will go near Irish players for a while because no one will be able to afford them and list sizes will be cut down in 2021 and beyond – and he wasn’t the only recruiter to express this opinion.”
At the start of the season there were a record 17 Irish players in the AFL with Kerry’s Deividas Uosis also due to head Down Under next season. The AFLW also featured a host of Irish stars who returned home after their season was brought to a premature end. A handful, such as Anton Tohill, Mark Keane and Conor McKenna, managed to get home, while others opted to stay in Australia.