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Ex-Swans CEO sheds light on the secret meetings during Franklin pursuit


Former Sydney CEO Andrew Ireland has detailed how the Swans went about recruiting star forward Lance Franklin.

In one of the most high-profile deals in VFL/AFL history, Franklin left Hawthorn to join Sydney as a restricted free agent on a nine-year, $10-million deal at the end of 2013.

Ireland shed light on the secret meetings that took place throughout the 2013 season that initiated the blockbuster deal which sent shockwaves through the AFL.

“It would have been around that period post the trade period on the run up to Christmas,” Ireland told SEN's This Is Your Sporting Life thanks to Tobin Brothers Funerals.

“The thing I do know is Lance and Liam (Pickering) met with John (Longmire) and myself at my place in Centennial Park in early January (2013).

“It was interesting because John and I thought the way we should approach the meeting was not to try to win him over to come to us, but actually talk to him about all the hard parts he was going to need to go through.

“Because it’s easy to contemplate the thought of doing it but the reality of having to tell your teammates the reality of going through the season and not signing a new contract, all of those things.

“As it panned out, he was keen (to join Sydney) which was great for us.

“We did a lot to make sure the meeting stayed secret. It was probably in the middle of the year when we started to talk to Liam more seriously around where Lance’s head is.

“I was pretty confident after the first meeting in January that he was deadly serious about it.

“The other thing we needed to do was in the mid-year break, Lance came up to see Jesinta (his wife) and we had our club doctor come to my house and we did a medical on him, but again, we really wanted to keep it a secret.”

The Hawks received pick 19 as compensation for losing Franklin after winning the 2013 premiership.

Franklin has kicked 364 goals for the Swans taking his career tally to 944 in 300 games across 16 seasons.

Knee and hamstring injuries sidelined the 33-year-old for the entire 2020 season. He has two years to run on his nine-year deal.

Hawthorn Sydney Swans

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