AFL news 2023: Jimmy Bartel raises North Melbourne priority pick deal theory

Geelong great Jimmy Bartel has raised a theory about North Melbourne’s priority pick package with the AFL, working out what dominoes he thinks will fall at Arden Street come draft day.

North Melbourne last week were granted a raft of draft concessions from the league following four years of failure, including a priority pick at the end of the first round for the next two years.

Incoming AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon confirmed the league commission had ratified a plan for two years of help to the Kangaroos, who haven’t finished higher than 17th in the past four years.

“They’ll have pick two of course, then Ben McKay going across to Essendon will bring the compensation pick at three, which then, North Melbourne with all those picks, there’s potential to move that to Gold Coast, because Gold Coast put pick four on the table, they need (draft) points to be able to get all those Academy picks in the door,” Bartel said on Footy Classified.

“We’re now looking at … four, we keep talking about Ryley Sanders, the young kid from Tasmania, now he’d be there or thereabouts once the Academy picks (are taken), so it’s almost like the AFL are saying, we haven’t handed it over, you‘ve done the deal, you take him pick four.”

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Co-host Damian Barrett said the Kangaroos had to be responsible for themselves at a point.

“Eventually, North Melbourne has to start fixing its own problems,” Barrett said.

“It’s not as if they haven’t had access to high-end talent, or the ability to develop that talent, and they’ve done really, neither, for at least five years.”

Sanders would be a welcome boost to North Melbourne’s midfield stocks, having consistently dominated the Coates Talent League for the Sandringham Dragons this season.

The inside midfielder’s Indigenous heritage saw him approved as a member of the club’s Next Generation Academy last week, but was not included as part of the club’s assistance package from the AFL.

North Melbourne already has two picks in the first round of this year’s draft, No. 2 and 14, and could get another as compensation for the loss of free agent Ben McKay, who looks headed to Essendon.

The extra “assistance package” includes one extra selection at the end of the first round in the 2023 National Draft, and two extra selections in 2024.

The Kangaroos will also get two additional rookie list spots for the 2024 season, having been given the same concession in 2023.

North Melbourne made an application for assistance having won just 12 of its past 84 games.

“North Melbourne has faced considerable challenges in recent years having not finished higher than 17th on the AFL ladder in the four seasons since 2020. The club presented to the AFL on how assistance can help the club potentially improve its on-field performance,” Dillon said.

“The AFL and football fans want a strong competition. Ensuring North Melbourne is competitive on the field and can build strength across its organisation, in the short term and in a sustainable way, is important for both the club and the broader competition.

“Under the leadership of President Sonja Hood, CEO Jennifer Watt and the club’s board, the AFL is confident that North Melbourne is heading in the right direction. After assessing the club’s position, the special assistance package can help the club deliver on its strategy for overall improvement in its football program and give greater confidence to staff, players and supporters.”

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