GOLD Coast Suns chairman John Witheriff famously proclaimed at the end of the 2012 season the Suns would win a grand final by 2015 at the latest.
Well, that season has come and gone and the expansion club is yet to play a final of any description, let alone a grand final.
And the chances of that happening anytime soon look like being dealt a serious blow with a host of star players set to leave the club.
The first one out the door in the present trade period was star midfielder Harley Bennell, with the deal done yesterday to send the former No.2 draft pick to Fremantle.
The Dockers will get Bennell and Gold Coast's second-round pick (No.22), in exchange for selections 16 and 35.
While negotiations have reportedly been progessing slowly, ruckman Zac Smith and key forward Charlie Dixon seem certain to end up at Geelong and Port Adelaide respectively.
And while another gun midfielder, Dion Prestia, will still be at the club next season, his manager Marty Pask said that may not be the case beyond that with Melbourne one of several Victorian clubs interested in the 23-year-old.
"There's 10 teams in Melbourne. Melbourne's not the only club. I know they're the ones that have been the most vocal on it," Pask said.
"You've got so much water to go under the bridge in 12 months in football."
Losing that quartet would be a significant blow for the Suns, although they are trying to compensate by luring
Melbourne's Jeremy Howe and Collingwood's Paul Seedsman.
While Bennell may have had to go after a string of field incidents, including being photographed with drugs in a hotel room before a game in Tasmania in 2013, his departure leaves a big hole on Gold Coast's list.
Fremantle, not surprisingly, were confident securing the midfielder would prove an astute pick-up.
"We're happy to have secured Harley's services on a three-year term," list manager Brad Lloyd said.
"Club staff and players have met with Harley over the past few weeks and we're confident he will be a valuable acquisition."
Geelong list manager Stephen Wells said the Cats, who secured key position player Lachie Henderson from Carlton yesterday in exchange for its first pick in the 2016 national draft, were finding it more difficult to reach agreement on Smith than it had on Henderson, Patrick Dangerfield (from the Crows) and Scott Selwood (from the Eagles).
"We'd like Zac to come to our club, but we've said and known all along that it might be hard to get all four (players) over the line," Wells said.
Dixon meanwhile is determined to get to the Power, but the Suns have so far refused to accept just pick No.10 in exchange, suggesting either the sweetener of a later selection or a player may be needed to get the deal done.
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