PRICE WAR: Lavington Panthers reject Hoppers fee to release Prior

LAVINGTON says it won’t be held to ransom by North Albury over contracted forward Adam Prior.

The Panthers face a nightmare battle trying to get the star goalkicker cleared from Bunton Park after AFL Victoria Country ruled this week that Prior’s contract with the Hoppers was valid.

The Ovens and Murray sharpshooter has ruled out returning to North Albury to play under Jason Akermanis, meaning Lavington must come to an agreement with the Hoppers before they will let him go. 

Lavington president Peter Barwick said the Panthers would not be forking out a king’s ransom for the three-time Doug Strang medallist.

If the Panthers and Hoppers can’t come to an agreement, Prior faces the very real possibility of spending this season on the sidelines.

“We’re not interested in the slightest in paying what they’re currently after,” Barwick said.

North Albury has not breached any conditions of Prior’s contract, meaning he is tied to the Hoppers for the coming season after re-signing for another season last August.

Lavington has until 2pm Monday to appeal AFL Victoria Country’s decision, however, Barwick said the club had already ruled that option out.

It costs $5500 to have a case heard by AFL Victoria’s appeals board, with $2500 of that fee non-refundable.

“We’ve accepted the decision and we certainly won’t be appealing it,” Barwick said.

“A few people at the club will probably meet over the weekend to discuss it all but there isn’t too much room to move with our budget.”

Prior has been embroiled in controversy since returning to the league from Western Australia this time last year.

It cost the Hoppers $15,000 to get him cleared by WAFL club East Perth.

It is believed Prior relinquished a substantial sign-on fee to help with those costs.

He went on to edge out Yarrawonga star Brendan Fevola for the league’s goalkicking award with 71 goals during the home and away season.

Prior was one of several players with outstanding match payments to leave North Albury after the club revealed it was $123,000 in debt in January.

He was paid by the Hoppers just days after joining Lavington and he is still training with the Panthers.

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