Initially, Crouch had asked for a six-year deal at just shy of $1 million per season.
The contract proposal went all the way to the Gold Coast board but was declined. The Suns were adamant they could not afford to spent that type of money on a player like Crouch, particularly as they would have to trade for him as well.
With the trade seemingly dead in the water, Crouch and his management made a last-ditch effort to re-ignite the move, lowering his asking price significantly, by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But the deal didn’t go through.
It was too late in the piece and the Suns were unwilling to reveal Crouch’s trade request publicly, knowing that Adelaide would have demanded pick one or two in exchange.
The franchise club was already committed internally to teenagers Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in the national draft – and knew Crouch would be a free agent at the end of 2020 – so they were not prepared to continue negotiations.
Gold Coast have picks 15 and 20 on top of the first two selections and were trying to get pick nine as part of Jack Martin’s pending move to Carlton.
Crouch’s desperation to leave Adelaide for the AFL’s worst-performed team adds fuel to the fire of the toxicity within the club that has led to a significant player exodus, including Sam Jacobs, Hugh Greenwood, Alex Keath and the legendary Eddie Betts.
The midfielder was also impressed with the Suns’ collection of young talent and made it clear that he would be going there with the expectation and belief the team would be playing in September sooner than pundits predicted.
It wasn’t the first time in 2019 that Crouch had attempted to leave Adelaide. His former manager – Alex McDonald – held discussions with St Kilda earlier in the season. The Saints were initially interested but shut down negotiations at his asking price of more than $900,000 a season.
Crouch then left McDonald’s company, Hemisphere, for W Sports and Media.
W Sports, a legal firm founded by commercial lawyer Gary Winter, manages the likes of Betts and FM radio host Ryan Fitzgerald as well as tennis stars Lleyton Hewitt, Alex De Minaur and Sam Groth.
Gold Coast remain confident of picking up Crouch as a free agent at the end of next year, but the overhaul of Adelaide’s football department will give the Crows renewed hope of changing his mind.
Adelaide football director Mark Ricciuto said on Tuesday that new coach Matthew Nicks will not have a senior assistant, choosing instead to give his line coaches more responsibility.
The club is still looking for a replacement for sacked head of football Brett Burton and will wait until that position is filled before appointing the role of culture and leadership, which was recommended by the external review.
But keeping Couch will test them. “You want to keep good people, you want to keep good players around the organisation,” Nicks said of the Crouch brothers the day he was appointed as Don Pyke’s successor.
“I had a chat to Brad (and also) to Matt. We are doing our best to keep them here, and part of that is just getting the right culture, or continuing to improve our culture to get where we need to.”
W Sports and Media was contacted for comment.
Sam McClure won the Clinton Grybas rising star award at the AFL media association awards in 2015.