Greater Western Sydney are set to enter this year's trade and free-agency period with a war chest of at least $1.36 million as they hunt for the signatures of Lance Franklin and other seasoned stars.
The Giants have stated they will be aggressive in the player market and are aiming to pay out 100 per cent of their salary cap next season, chairman Tony Shepherd said at a pre-game function last weekend.
The $1.36 million is made up of the $600,000-$700,000 the Giants are understood to be paying below this year's cap plus a $663,000 increase in player payments agreed to for 2014 as part of the collective bargaining agreement.
The figure of $663,000 is based on the rise in total player payments (from $9.14 million to $9.63 million) and additional services agreements ($852,000 to $963,000) plus the maintenance of the controversial 9.8 per cent cost-of-living allowance. The increase in total player payments means the cost-of-living allowance will rise to nearly $1.04 million next year.
The Giants also have up to an extra $1 million in their salary cap as part of the concessions handed out to the fledgling club. It's believed they are not paying the entire extra allowance this year.
The Giants will have even more room to move in the salary cap once retirements and delistings are factored in, but may need it if they are to achieve their lofty recruiting aims. Veterans Dean Brogan and Chad Cornes have already hung up the boots while other mature-age recruits such as Bret Thornton, Setanta O'hAilpin and Stephen Gilham may also call time on their playing careers.
Franklin is reported to have been offered a six-year deal worth $10 million by the Giants, though the Hawks have countered with a contract described as the biggest in the club's history.
The Giants are also on the lookout for an established ruckman and proven key defenders and also want mature-age midfielders.
''We'll be aggressive in the upcoming trade period and aim to pay out 100 per cent of the salary cap next year and secure some far more established players,'' Shepherd said. ''We will be strengthening the team with more experienced 100-plus-game players just to give the young boys a chance to develop and give them some on-field leadership and support.''
The Hawks are inadvertently giving Franklin a taste of what life could be like in western Sydney by staying in Parramatta before Friday night's clash with the Swans at ANZ Stadium. Franklin said on Thursday he had felt extra pressure from the Hawks to sign a new deal sooner rather than later.
''There has been a little bit of pressure and expectation from the football club in terms of signing but from me I've always had the mindset I want to do it at the end of the season,'' he said at the announcement of the indigenous Australian squad to travel to Ireland for this year's International Rules series.
Franklin joked he would be using his time in Sydney to catch up with the Giants' coach-in-waiting Leon Cameron, a former assistant of Alastair Clarkson's at Hawthorn.
''No, we're here to play Sydney and get the win and play finals,'' he said. ''I like Sydney. I obviously like Sydney a lot, but I enjoy myself in Melbourne and obviously love Hawthorn. As I've said from the start of the season I'll leave that for the end of the season and from there make my mind up on what I'm going to do. But at this stage it's Hawthorn where I want to be at.''