AFL player wages will be tied to industry revenue for the first time in the game’s history under a historic agreement struck between the AFL Players’ Association and the Australian Football League.
A new six-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will deliver to players a package of $1.84 billion, inclusive of player wages, investments in player development, the Player Retirement Scheme, injury and hardship support, marketing activities and past players.
AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh says the new CBA will benefit players of the past, present and future, and incentivises them to work with the AFL to grow the game over the next six years.
“This CBA rewards the players for the role they’ve played, and continue to play, in making our game great. It also ensures the industry is primed to grow grassroots football, maintain 18 strong clubs and continue to deliver an incredible product for fans,” he said.
“The players’ guiding principle through this negotiation was partnership and we’re thrilled to secure a deal that reflects this.
“The AFL Players’ Association is committed to working with the players and other football stakeholders to drive growth and strengthen the AFL industry’s position as the most successful professional sport in Australia.”
AFL Chairman, Richard Goyder, said the agreement was a win for the key pillars of the AFL’s strategy — players, clubs, fans and the grassroots of the game.
“This is a great outcome for our industry, delivering certainty and stability, respecting our players, and allowing the AFL to invest in the future.
“Our players play the toughest, fastest and most spectacular game in the world, and this agreement rewards their role,” Goyder said.
Total Player Payments will increase by 20 per cent in 2017, to $12.45 million per club ($224m in total), with increases of 1.2%, 1.3%, 2%, 2%, 2% in years 2018-2022.
Under this new payment structure, players will earn 28 percent of forecast defined football revenue and benefit from a review mechanism that captures a share of additional AFL and club revenue. Players will receive 28% of AFL revenues and 11.2% of club revenues above forecasts.
Some revenue streams have been excluded from ‘defined football revenue’, including bequests and donations, government grants, non-football revenues and AFLW revenue. The parties have also agreed to exclude all revenue generated by the AFL through Etihad Stadium for the life of this CBA, to the extent such revenue is used to repay the AFL’s loan on the venue.
The minimum rookie wage will increase to $71,500 in 2017, while the minimum wage for a first round draft pick will rise to $88,193 in 2017.
Any additional revenue earned under the review mechanism will be paid into the players’ retirement accounts at years three and six of the agreement. This comes in addition to an extra $6 million of funding into player retirement accounts over the six years (now $15m per year).
Players will be further supported through an industry-aligned approach to player development and diversity, a modernised injury payments model, guaranteed funding for concussion research and improved travel and accommodation conditions.
Past players will benefit from the establishment of a Lifetime Health Care program that will provide assistance with the costs of joint-related and dental procedures stemming from their football careers.
Other specific key outcomes from the new CBA:
- Annual contribution of $4 million to the AFL Players’ Association’s Lifetime Health Care and Career Ending Injury fund
- Annual contribution of $250,000 for concussion research, inclusive of all tribunal fines
- $13 million over the life of the CBA to fund Industry-aligned Player Development programs and services
- 12 business class airfares per flight for WA-based teams when doing east/west travel
- Business class or premium economy airfares on international flights other than New Zealand
- Cost of single room accommodation has been removed from the clubs’ soft caps
- Removal of provision allowing players to contribute to cost of pre-season camps
- Eight grand final tickets for participating players
- 1000 tickets for distribution amongst players
- Category-A rookie-listed players will be eligible to play senior football from 2018
- Players no longer need to be restricted free agents before becoming unrestricted
- At least one additional free agency provision to be adopted by October 2017, from the following — Free agency for life, free agency portability, restricted free agency at four years for any players under median salary or such other change proposed by AFL and agreed by AFLPA
- Pre-season mini-breaks will increase from three to four days
- ‘Rested’ players or ‘held over’ travelling emergencies let out of their senior team will receive match payments
- Players agree to license their personal GPS data to be made available to clubs and broadcasters with specified limitations