“I do feel for them [the AFL] a little bit too because everyone’s got a great idea to spend money outside of the TPP [total player payments] and a lot of them they do have to knock back a lot. They’ve been quite challenging on making sure that these are bona fide.
“It’s terrific that the players’ association are aware of his circumstances and I’m pretty sure they’ll help him also.
“He’s a bit of an unusual one too because he was so late in getting picked up and we only signed his contract six weeks before the grand final initially in the first place anyway so we’ve been trying to re-sign but we’re not allowed to at the moment because of all the COVID restrictions. In the end that will work out for him but it’s been a bit uncomfortable for him in the short term.
“In reality the Marlion Pickett story is just unbelievable in itself. The AFL should almost be giving him $1 million for his story in reality because nearly everything we’ve spoken about for two weeks after the grand final involved him, so it’s a bit of an anomaly in that sense too.”
Balme said Pickett would also likely join Richmond’s Korin Gamadji Institute which describes itself as “a unique educational and training facility that supports and incubates leadership and employment pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.
Player agent Colin Young told News Corp during the week that a couple of clubs would like to see the introduction of marquee players who could be paid outside the salary cap in light of the financial struggles the league will face as a result of the pandemic.
But Balme said that idea didn’t make much sense to him.
“It seems contrary to most things we’re trying to do,” he said.
“I do see, though, the reality now is that the world has changed, the finances will change, the TV deal could well change and the deal that the players have negotiated relates to the TV deal, et cetera, et cetera.
“So all sorts of things will change, but you do feel for the guys who have signed the longer-term contracts and all of a sudden someone’s going to come back and say, ‘Sorry mate, that doesn’t work anymore’.”
Balme would also like to see rule changes made for the 2020 season, such as shorter quarters and longer half-time breaks, retained beyond this year.
Ronny Lerner is a Sports reporter for The Age.