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  • Writer's pictureSportFM

Reduction to AFL soft cap has led to less innovation

Josh Kempton

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir has criticised football department soft cap rules, saying more resources would help improve outcomes across the league.

The AFL introduced the system, where clubs are taxed on any money spent above a league-set figure, in 2015, framing it as an equalisation measure to help struggling clubs.

The figure was slashed from $9.68 million in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic and is yet to recover to the same level, being set at $6.45 million last year.

“I think the AFL soft cap has really killed off innovation in our sport,” Longmuir told Sports Breakfast.

“I think 10 years ago we were leading the world in some of the things we were doing in terms of sports science, and we were recognised across the world for leading the way in a lot of those areas.

“Hopefully the AFL sees that over the next few years and allows for more innovation in our sport.”

Longmuir’s comments came on the back of a professional development trip to the United States.

“It’s probably something I’ve done every year after the season of my coaching journey, just to spread the wings and see if we can learn from other sports and other people within Australia and outside Australia,” he said.

“We were lucky enough to do some things with the US Olympic Committee and some of their coaches and personnel … and then we were lucky enough to spend a bit of time with a few sporting organisations in the end in the [San Antonio] Spurs and the New Orleans Saints and LSU down in Baton Rouge.

“Overall, you’re trying to pick up things that can help your own coaching craft, whether that’s the way you set up your program or the way you deliver messages or the way you pick up on storytelling themes throughout the year.”

Back in clubland, Longmuir said there had been no discussions with current captain Nat Fyfe about handing over the leadership role.

“The way we’ve run it over the last 3 years is the players get to choose who they have as captain, so we’ll go through a similar process,” he said.

“I think over the last few years, we’ve been able to spread the leadership load internally, and I think you saw on game day this year our ability to spread the leadership load as well.”

Preseason training for first to fourth year players resumes next week, with all players reporting back the following week.



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