The AFL has angrily denied it would play a role in inducing Lance Franklin to move to Greater Western Sydney.
Amid reports that the Hawthorn champion could be paid an amount outside his salary as an ambassador in the NSW growth market, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said he wanted Franklin to remain a Hawk.
Franklin, well out in front as the AFL's most marketable player, is out of contract at season's end and has told the club negotiations are on hold until then – a decision concerning to the Hawks hierarchy, who had made him an offer of a minimum four years on close to $1 million.
A report in The Herald Sun on Tuesday said Franklin could be paid by the league outside the salary cap, with the 26-year-old in contention to become an ambassador similar to rugby league converts Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau.
But Demetriou scoffed at the report: "Let's be very clear – this is possibly one of the biggest beat-ups on what is a non-news day that I've ever, ever come across," he said on SEN.
"Under no circumstances would the AFL be in any way involved in trying to recruit any player to any club, as we wouldn't do ... for that to be extrapolated to, 'Well, what happens if he does go to the GWS?'
"I said if that's the case and they were to procure him and our commercial people came to me and said he'd be good value as an ambassador, then we would consider it.
"But under no circumstance ... the AFL is not interested in inducing any player from any club to go to any other club. We wouldn't do it.
"I want Buddy Franklin to stay at Hawthorn because he's a great player and that is the end of the story.
"Let's not exaggerate things and make up things.
"If every time we get into a hypothetical question [situation] and it appears on the back page of the newspaper, we are in for a very long season that's going to upset a lot, a lot of people."