AFL Debate Club: Time to bring in a mid-season trade period

Connolly: Crows' slow rebuild paying off (3:02)

A lot of teams don't have the patience for a slow rebuild, but Adelaide has shown it's still possible in the modern game, says Rohan Connolly. (3:02)

Welcome to ESPN's AFL Debate Club, the column in which our writers and contributors will take one prompt from the week and put their opinion on the record. The kicker? No opinion is immune from criticism!

This week, Rohan Connolly and Matt Walsh debate the merits of a mid-season trade period, and if it could be successfully implemented in the AFL.

It's time for the AFL to introduce a mid-season trade period

Rohan Connolly: Nope. It's not. Why not? Well, first, we're not the US or Europe. And we do in my view tend to copy most American sporting innovations at some stage with too little thought given to whether we have the necessary size and structure to make them work. Ditto European soccer's "transfer windows".

I recognise player markets need a certain amount of fluidity to fit the modern world and obviously also avoid any prospect of "restraint of trade" type legal challenges.

But we already have far more player movement devices via things like free agency and supplementary draft selections than we did only 15 years ago to help keep "Trade Radio" bubbling along, not that I'd be so cynical as to suggest media content creation is in itself a priority here ... not yet, anyway.

We do, though, in my view, have enough different ways of acquiring talent over the off-season. And now another, via the mid-season draft, during the season. Isn't that sufficient?

How many safety nets does an AFL list still lacking the necessary talent or depth require? And why should it have them at all anyway?

Isn't one of the skills which go to a club's success and ability to maintain it the capacity to get a list right? To put together a playing group deep enough to withstand the potential problems thrown up by unforeseen spates of injury?

Coping with and covering injuries is part of the deal. And so is a bit of good or bad fortune along the way. Missing a third tall? Why haven't you recruited one already. Losing a lot of midfielders? Maybe next year you won't. Had shocking run with injuries 27 years in a row? Maybe your fitness programs need looking at.

AFL clubs are hardly short of chances to "get out of jail" during the course of a season. I'm not sure we should be making it even easier for them to do so if they don't really deserve it.

Matt Walsh: I'm massive on this and have been for years. I think it's an absolute no-brainer, because I don't think anyone loses.

Clubs in contention can get players in who will help their flag chances. Clubs not looking so hot can offload players in demand (say, a ruckman, or key position depth) for a higher price -- be it draft picks or players -- given teams with premiership aspirations will be willing to pay overs to get the 'missing piece' in the door.

Fans also get the added thrill of a second trade period. Haughty types will argue it's unnecessary, and fans don't want it, but the click numbers, podcast streams, and social engagement will show otherwise. Yes, even we cretins in the media get something out of this, too.

Why not give it a go? It benefits the top teams, the lower teams get better looks in the draft, and players on the fringes may get opportunities elsewhere (think Paddy Dow not being selected for Carlton, or Mabior Chol or Alex Sexton at Gold Coast).

Of course, the Players Association will want a lot of input, and fair enough. One big detraction is 'players can't just be shipped anywhere without their approval', and that's right. Footy players just don't make enough money. But the premise would be similar to the trade period at the end of the season in that players will be aware and approve of any moves made.

Say you introduce a two week trade period over the bye weeks (yes, consolidate the byes into two weeks, please). The interest would be astronomical, and the talkback lines overflowing with opinions, discussion, and, let's face it, meltdowns.

Traditionalists will argue you should build your team for success in the offseason, and if your side is cut down by injuries, or poor list management, then bad luck. But a mid-season draft period would invigorate a down period of the season, keep fans of all teams interested (whether they're riding draft picks, or getting players in), and add a fun new dimension to the footy news cycle.