ADAM Prior faces the prospect of sitting out of football for a year after his contract with North Albury was deemed valid.
The Ovens and Murray sharpshooter, who recently joined Lavington, has been unable to force his way to the Panthers after AFL Victoria Country officials ruled his 2014 contract with the Hoppers binding and enforceable.
It means North Albury has the upper hand in any possible negotiation with Lavington.
“There’s not much we can say, other than North Albury was not in breach of any conditions in Adam’s contract he signed in August,” AFL North East-Border spokesman Jeff Chandler said.
Prior, who has been training with the Panthers, publicly ruled out returning to Bunton Park to play under coach Jason Akermanis recently.
The Panthers can appeal the decision to AFL Victoria’s appeals board at a cost of $5500 — $3000 of that fee is refundable.
Lavington has until 2pm on Monday to launch an appeal.
The clubs can still come to a resolution between themselves.
Prior, who won the Doug Strang Medal as the league’s leading goalkicker last season, re-signed with the Hoppers late last year — well before the club revealed in January it was $123,000 in debt.
It’s not the first time Prior has been embroiled in a clearance wrangle.
It cost $15,000 to get the three-time Doug Strang medallist cleared from East Perth this time last year after the WAFL club refused to let him go.
It is believed Prior relinquished a substantial sign-on fee to help with those costs.
Matt McDonald is also facing difficulties getting cleared from Bunton Park.
The star midfielder had his second attempt at being cleared to Jindera denied this week, however, remains confident of joining the Hume league club.