The more you talk to people who have dealings with Grant Thomas, the
stronger his power hungry image gets. And away from the cameras and
media glare, what we see isn’t always what we get! That’s where his
volatile personality, seldom if ever on public display, can and does
explode as any number of football folk can attest.

Right now Thomas is under the
media griller not just because he’s coaching the pre-season premiership
favourite that’s lost more games
than it’s won, but his whole coaching and team management methodology is
under fire – especially his persistence to negotiate all his players’ contracts personally.

Thomas has a very simple
philosophy that football, like any other business, is run by its best people
making the key decisions. So who better
than the coach to decide what a player is actually worth paying? But this makes him the only AFL coach to
personally negotiate all the salary packages for the players.

The other night on Fox Footy Wayne Carey made the telling
observation of an out of form player being brought in for a chat with
the coach who says something like: “Now son you’re not playing anywhere
near well enough to justify the money I am paying you.” Most coaches
don’t want to know what their players are earning because they probably
don’t want this kind of problem. And it doesn’t help if a coach can
threaten a star player with demotion merely because he didn’t get his
way in salary negotiations.

Thomas may or may not be up to the task of matching it with the big
boys on game day, but player contracts should be none of the coach’s
business. It looks like the combination of Thomas’s over-reaching
vanity has left his board with a most interesting question to be
answered at the end of the season, no matter what his contract says.
But then he negotiated it!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey