Gold Coast co-captain Tom Lynch has the future of his football club in his hands as one of the most dramatic contract negotiations in the game’s history starts to heat up.
The Gold Coast Football Club are currently on death row, with a series of monumental mistakes and a healthy dose of unfortunate luck seeing the former potential powerhouse empty handed in regards to finals appearances, member growth and hope.
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The Suns are now on the brink of financial collapse due largely to exorbitant fees placed upon them by the government agency, Stadiums Queensland. This organization has sucked the AFL-owned club dry to the extent that without government intervention, they will die on the Gold Coast in front of a handful of old Bears supporters, a few neutrals and a couple of lost NRL fans.
Tom Lynch is the Gold Coast’s final great white hope and he is seemingly on the way out the door to a Victorian superpower of his choosing; be that Hawthorn, Richmond or Collingwood. This is despite the Suns understanding the gravitas of the situation, throwing the whole kitchen sink, box, dice - you name it! – at him with the biggest contract offer the football world has ever seen. A $10.5 million contract over seven years would make Tom Lynch the highest paid Australian footballer of all time. This sum does not even include the additional AFL ambassadorial salary that he may or may not receive.
Gold Coast’s extraordinary offer has been sitting in front of the 2016 All Australian key forward for at least three months but he clearly has not jumped at the chance to take it nor has had shown any signs he will be accepting it any time soon.
Port Adelaide legend Kane Cornes has suggested that Gold Coast should “shut its doors” if Tom Lynch walks out on them, which unfortunately it is not an exaggeration of the Suns’ dire plight. Triple premiership Lion Alastair Lynch has also spoken out stating that “if Tom Lynch left the Gold Coast Suns, it's a long way back”. Will this push the Suns over the cliff into the bottomless pit of football oblivion? They seem to have one foot in that pit already.
Other greats such as Swans Premiership Coach Paul Roos have urged the AFL to “unashamedly” get involved in order to entice the pressured Sun to stay. Ironically, parallels can be drawn between Lynch and Roos’ departures from Fitzroy for Brisbane and Sydney respectively, in the final years of the VFL and AFL foundation club’s long, slow death.
But will the AFL get involved? Many were critical, and still are to this day, of the AFL’s lack of action in saving Fitzroy. In fact, ‘lack of action’ many more accurately be described as plotting and perpetrating its demise to begin with.
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The AFL wants, rather needs, a second team in Queensland, which is causing several within the AFL industry to believe the "custodians of the game" will intervene, discretely or not, within the laws of the game or not, to ensure Tom Lynch stays a Sun and saves the Suns. Whether this is ethical or not is an entirely different debate.
Influential Collingwood President Eddie McGuire clearly believes the AFL will act, as when questioned about the Magpies' pursuit of the star forward he responded that he “would be very surprised that AFL did not do everything in their power to make sure that [Tom] Lynch stayed at the Gold Coast.” In fact, on Tuesday, the AFL General Manager of football operations, Steve Hocking conceded – publicly – that “for the competition, there’s no doubt you want to see (Tom Lynch) play his career out at the Gold Coast.”
So, as the Suns and the AFL root for a Lynch re-signing, or perhaps manipulate the system in order to make certain he does, one group is barracking for a departure and an immediate collapse on the distant sidelines. Despite, the plethora of difficult options that befall the AFL in regards to Tasmania, Tassie is conceding that there is only one that is realistic option for the state to gain an allusive AFL license – Gold Coast to become an untenable on-field option, and inevitably fold. This comes as the AFL’s much anticipated announcement of the future of Tasmanian football on June 30 which will not feature news of a new Tasmanian AFL team, nor Tasmanian VFL team (for at least the next three years) despite the request of TSL Presidents that a VFL team will provide a significant step towards an eventual AFL license.
A nineteen-team competition is too far into the future, whereas, the AFL’s preferred model of the “Tassie Kangaroos” has been knocked back by North Melbourne. It is not known whether Jeff Kennett’s “Tassie Hawks” proposal made it onto the AFL drawing board, or whether it was just Jeff speaking for the sake of hearing his own voice again. Therefore, Tasmania has conceded that a takeover of the Suns’ AFL license is the only option it has left to finally enter the big league, which causes the fascinating intertwining of the Tasmanian and Gold Coast football crises.
Several prominent football voices are urging Tom Lynch to follow his best interests and leave the Suns for dead. It's not often that blue skies are brighter in Melbourne than on the Gold Coast, but this may be one of those rare occasions.
If $10.5 million is not enough for the current captain to care that the ship is going down, it’s fair to say the whole thing is going to sink.
And Tom Lynch is swimming south, frantically.