The father-son rule is a rule that allows clubs to select the sons of players who have made a major past contribution to the team in Australian rules football, most notably the Australian Football League. The rule was first established in 1952 and has since endured, albeit with over 10 amendments, most recently tightening of eligibility criteria in 2003 and refining of the draft selection process in 2007.
The original rule came into place as a result of successful lobbying by Melbourne Football Club. The club wanted the young Ron Barassi to follow in the footsteps of his father, Ron Barassi, Sr. who had been killed during World War II. However, this meant bypassing the then standard zone-based recruitment rulings, which would have seen Barassi join Carlton instead.
In 2007 the AFL made an important amendment for the father-son rule, establishing a bidding system to determine which draft pick a club must give up to secure the potential recruit. The current system works as follows:
1. Individual clubs are free to nominate potential father-son recruits within the above eligibility guidelines.
2. A meeting is held on the Monday before the start of trade week where clubs can bid for the nominated players. Each club has the option to bid, in reverse ladder order, for the nominated players.
3. If a bid is made, the club that nominated the father-son......