Swans pull off AFL draft ruse with Blakey

Kerry Packer once famously thundered that anyone who didn't try to minimise their tax needed to have their heads read.

The deceased billionaire would have loved the ruse that Sydney pulled off on Thursday night at the AFL draft.

In a complicated AFL version of tax avoidance, the Swans effectively reduced the price they had to pay to recruit their highly-rated academy player Nick Blakey.

The AFL approved the complicated two-part plan - meaning it was avoidance, which is legal, not evasion, which is illegal.

Sydney started round one of the draft with two certainties - that they were very keen to secure Blakey, the son of two-time North Melbourne premiership player and long-time Swans assistant coach John Blakey.

Secondly, because Blakey is from Sydney's player academy and is highly-rated, they would have to match a bid from a rival club to draft him.

What no-one could have foreseen was how they would lessen the cost of matching that rival bid.

The ploy started just before pick seven, when Sydney became the first club to use the AFL's new live trading of draft picks.

In a move which had onlookers scratching their heads and wondering "why?", the Swans traded pick 26 to West Coast in exchange for a future third-round pick.

At round 10, GWS duly made a bid for Blakey and the Swans matched it, meaning Sydney had their player.

Then, the Swans did another live trade with the Eagles, who gave up pick 22 in exchange for a future second-round pick.

The genius of the ploy was two-fold - first, the Swans had reduced the draft "tax" they had to pay for Blakey, because they didn't have pick 26 at the time they matched the GWS bid for him.

Instead, they gave up picks 34, 39 and 40 to thwart the Giants.

Then, after the second trade with West Coast, they also improved four spots in draft order when it resumes from noon on Friday.

And best of all, it had the AFL's approval.