After not appearing at training on Wednesday Collingwood has confirmed embattled star Jordan De Goey has been granted personal leave.
This means he will miss the club’s match against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday with no set date for a return.
A statement released by Collingwood said “Jordan has been absent from training this week and the Club will continue to support him on his return to the football program”.
The Pies will unwittingly set up the ultimate test of De Goey’s loyalty by parking contract talks in a move that could force him to sacrifice millions to remain at Collingwood.
The deal now becomes the biggest contract circus in football as the AFL’s free agent deal of the season will run until after the Grand Final.
Club officials told waiting media at Olympic Park on Wednesday morning that the 26-year old would not be in attendance as the Pies complete their main training session for the week.
Players and coaches had all arrived just before 8am, with training set to begin just before 9am.
Coach Craig McRae was on deck before 7am.
De Goey is expected to speak at some stage this week after the club announced on Tuesday that he had been handed a $25,000 suspended fine.
Collingwood is already heavily involved in trade talks with rival parties and is increasingly hopeful Brisbane free agency forward Dan McStay might find his way to the club.
He has been offered five seasons at $500,000 at the Lions but could secure as much as $600,000 on similar tenure to move to a Melbourne club.
Brisbane is hopeful that he will stay but has begun assessing the market for replacements if he leaves, with Adelaide believing the Lions had interest in Taylor Walker on a two-year deal.
The Pies are also keen on key defenders and small pressure forwards, having scoured the market for goalsneaks last year.
The Pies had offered De Goey a two-year deal worth $1.6 million plus a trigger for a further two-years on games-based and behavioural clauses, but have officially parked that deal.
It would be inconceivable that they would offer him an increased deal at longer tenure after yet another incident involving lack of respect to women.
St Kilda is one of multiple clubs that will assess the last 12 weeks of the season before considering lodging an official deal for De Goey.
But industry sources believe a club will ultimately come forward that would be prepared to offer five seasons at $800,000.
So if De Goey does remain at the Pies he would be signing a deal on $1.6 million compared to a contract of up to $4 million of guaranteed cash elsewhere.
It would be a significant sacrifice to remain on those terms given his long list of priors means he is no certainty to be handed another lucrative deal.
Rival player managers said on Tuesday one option would be to sign a two-year deal without a trigger at the end of the season.
Then De Goey could sign another three or four-year deal at 28 that would maximise his contract worth as a free agent.
Collingwood chief executive Mark Anderson was asked if De Goey would be at the club next year on Tuesday and replied: “Discussions for a contract are on hold until the end of the year. So we will embark upon those discussions at the end of the year with both Jordan and Ryan, his agent.”
If De Goey left the club as a free agent and McStay arrived it would effectively neutralise any free agency compensation the club received.
But Collingwood could free cap space to secure a player of McStay’s calibre for a positional need and still have money to secure a small forward.
Fremantle chief executive Simon Garlick made clear after the Dockers lost Adam Cerra clubs did not have to fear losing one player after they secured Jye Amiss and Neil Erasmus as replacements.
“I think clubs can get obsessive about maintaining a player at all costs,” Garlick said.
“I don’t know if sometimes that’s based upon not wanting to be seen as a club that loses a player here and there … it’s a really interesting case because the fact that Adam Cerra wanted to leave, we’re really comfortable with the fact it wasn’t based upon something that was occurring at our club. So I think it’s a really interesting concept, certainly when we reflect on it, it might turn out quite good for us.”
‘Committed to change’: How De Goey could avoid penalty
Collingwood has refused to guarantee Jordan De Goey will be at the club next year as it postponed contract talks with the star and handed him a suspended $25,000 fine.
The decision to fine De Goey five days after his Bali nightclub antics came after two days of high-levels talks with the 26-year-old initially adamant he had done nothing wrong.
Finally after lengthy discussions the Pies were able to convince De Goey of the manner in which he had disrespected women after trying to expose a female’s breast in a nightclub.
De Goey did not appear on Tuesday but in a statement said he had “betrayed the trust” of the club and apologised, revealing he had been diagnosed with ADHD late last year.
He cited the condition for why he made mistakes after he escaped suspension for his Bali nightclub antics.
De Goey has not been suspended by the club and will pay no fine unless he commits another breach.
He is set to speak about his ADHD and level of contrition in coming days but the nature of the forum has not yet been decided.
Chief executive Mark Anderson refused to say whether he would play this week against GWS but with no ban there is nothing stopping him from taking the field if he trains well tomorrow.
Anderson said De Goey had made significant ground in his counselling as the club commits to even more of that intensive counselling in the hope he will finally mature.
But Anderson said the club would now postpone contact talks until the end of the season after taking a deal off the table over the weekend.
Asked if he hoped De Goey would be at the club next year, he replied: “Discussions for a contract are on hold until the end of the year. So we will embark upon those discussions at the end of the year with both Jordan and Ryan, his agent.”
De Goey said late last year he was diagnosed with ADHD and “I am trying to become more aware of why I make mistakes that I do.”
“I have again made a mistake – this is an ongoing journey for me – and I remain absolutely committed to changing,” De Goey said.
“…I will be seeking further support to take the appropriate and necessary steps to learn and improve as a person.”
Anderson admitted the club’s delay in coming to a resolution on De Goey’s contract was in part because he needed time to realise he had done something wrong.
De Goey had released an Instagram message complaining about persecution by the media that finished with the hashtag #enoughisenough.
Anderson said the Pies condemned De Goey’s “disrespectful conduct” which “demonstrated disrespect towards women.”
“Disrespect of women is not to be tolerated and we are very strong within Collingwood in providing a safe environment for all women.”
The club believed his decision to attempt to expose a woman’s breast in a crowded nightclub showed disrespect regardless of her level of consent.
“There was one aspect of that we were really concerned about. The social media content in the video that showed him disrespecting women and tugging at the clothing, that was the thing for us that we couldn’t tolerate and showed it was disrespectful of women. Regardless of whether it was consensual and we understand it was, the respect for women is that the behaviour is not acceptable.”
The suspended fine will be held off “dependent on his behaviour”, according to Anderson.
Anderson said De Goey had made ground in his behaviour over the past six months.
“He has made progress. The behavioural aspects, he is learning more about himself, needing to learn about himself, receiving support and counselling and professional advice around his behaviours and we all make mistakes. This is a really disappointing moment for him to be in. He has clearly made a mistake and we hope he doesn’t make another one or there is the fine that will come down on him.
“But he has made progress. He is learning about himself, how he needs to respond and behave. We do believe as we saw in the first six months the behaviours he has shown across shows he was understanding and learning it. It’s a very disappointing moment to be in. But he will recommit to the program he has embarked upon with the professionals at the club and he needs to do so for the rest of the season.”