The Coulter Law was a set of Victorian Football League (VFL) recruiting and payment rules that operated from 1930 to 1970 and set maximum wages for individual players. Testing of the conventional view - that most VFL clubs breached these rules to maximise the utility derived from winning games - is hampered by the unavailability of individual wage data. We develop a model that observes connections between player turnover and team performance at three VFL clubs. The ways that clubs managed team payrolls in a regulated labour market are not sufficient to explain variations in team performance. Clubs lost experienced players to minor leagues, regardless of whether they complied with the Coulter Law. The ability of clubs to develop replacement players had a stronger influence on team performance.