Adelaide Crows football director and club legend Mark Ricciuto has come forward with the real reason the club failed to match the free agency offer that allowed midfield star Brad Crouch to walk out the door.
Ricciuto’s explanation included a poorly disguised pot shot at Crouch, less than a day after the former Crow officially joined St Kilda as a restricted free agent.
Crouch responded with his own sly dig on Thursday by suggesting it was not a difficult decision for him to leave the Crows after a season where the club finished with the wooden spoon.
The Crows had three days to match St Kilda’s offer, but the clock ran on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old nominated the Saints as his preferred landing destination and a four-year offer worth a reported $700,000 a season was enough to seal the deal.
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Adelaide had been hopeful of landing pick two as compensation for losing Crouch, but those dreams were dashed on Sunday.
The compensation offered to the Crows was a second-round pick, expected to be No. 23 overall at this year’s draft, far less than the team had hoped.
Crows footy boss Adam Kelly told AFL Trade Radio through the week the club would look to match and force a trade if they didn’t get a desired compensation result.
On Wednesday the rollercoaster came to an end when the Crows opted not to match the Saints offer and will now watch Crouch walk out the door.
Brad Crouch returns to Victoria.Source:News Corp Australia
Ricciuto said St Kilda and Crouch put the Crows in an unwinnable situation because no other club was willing to enter the race for Crouch.
“The reason why St Kilda went for Brad Crouch is because he’s a free agent, so they can get him for nothing,” Ricciuto said on Triple M Breakfast in Adelaide.
“So if you match the deal, two things can happen. You can match, and then trade with them if they wanna trade, and try and get their top pick, which was pick 17, so only sort of half a dozen spots higher than pick 23.
“Or they can walk away and say ‘well no, the reason we wanted him was because we were gonna get him for nothing, we don’t wanna give up our first pick for him, so you can have him’.
“And at that point, you would have Brad Crouch wanting to not want to be at Adelaide on a five-year deal, and the Crows not wanting Brad in Adelaide on a five-year deal, okay?
“So you’re in a situation you don’t wanna be, and same with Brad. We had a look around to see if any other clubs were interested … and that wasn’t the case, we couldn’t find one.”
Crouch faced the media for the first time on Thursday as an official St Kilda player and showed how little emotion he had at leaving the Crows.
Crouch said leaving Adelaide was a “complete no-brainer”.
“They suit the way I play, they’re going the right way, they’re a very young side as well, they’ve got a very bright future. I’d say that’s probably the overriding thing.,” he said.
“It got to the stage for me where it was just a complete no-brainer. The decision was just made and it was really clear for me.”
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