Collingwood has taken a decisive step in the Travis Cloke contractual saga, putting contract talks on hold until the end of the 2012 season.
Simultaneously, the Magpies all but agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension for All-Australian defender Ben Reid as they continue to re-sign their other uncontracted players.
The Magpies, mindful of the constant discussion of Cloke's situation, have informed Cloke's management, his father David and Ralph Carr, that they will be postpone any further negotiations until the season's end.
The club set out a statement about their decision, explaining the rationale.
Collingwood director of football, Geoff Walsh, said that by removing the potential for distraction from the agenda of both club and player a firm focus could continue to be brought to the remainder of the season.
“The season at hand is everyone’s priority,” Walsh said.
“And having considered all of the circumstances it seemed the most sensible and appropriate course to suspend our negotiations until the season has been played out.”
The Pies plan to continue negotiations with the management of other players, such as Ben Reid, Harry O'Brien and Sharrod Wellingham, with a number of other players having already signed.
Cloke's form has become a major issue for the Magpies, his output having dropped alarmingly in recent weeks, as the contractual impasse has continued. Fremantle heads the clubs that have made significant offers to the key forward.
Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell today suggested that Cloke had to be affected by the speculation and focus on his contract negotiations. "I think when anyone's not playing their best footy they tend to hear things and read things, and it becomes hard. I challenge anyone who goes through what Trav has been going through this year and be coming out and playing [their] best footy. He's working his backside off and that's all we can ask of him."
Maxwell said the players upfield had to assist their forwards such as Cloke and the struggling Chris Dawes.
"I think we can look after them a bit better with the way we kick it in there."
Reid's agent Paul Connors told sportsnewsfirst website: “I can confirm that we have had good discussions and yes, we are very close to an agreement on Ben Reid.
“There are a few loose ends to tie up, but Ben is very keen to stay with Collingwood and always has been.”
Reid is likely to earn in the vicinity of $900,000 over those two years, making him a restricted free agent when the contract expires at the end of 2014. Reid, 23, was the All-Australian centre half-back last year.
Connors met with Walsh today to thrash out the deal.