THE OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE BODY OF CURRENT AND PAST AFL PLAYERS
The AFL Players’ Association was established in 1973 by players competing in the VFL competition but has grown in size and influence since those humble beginnings and now represents more than 800 current male players, 420 current female players and close to 5000 past player members.
HISTORY OF THE AFLPA
In 1973, things started to heat up as Essendon player Geoff Pryor’s efforts to form a players’ association gained momentum as he began to talk to more players away from the field, and started researching player unions overseas. After a series of meetings that lasted for months, a first general meeting on December 10 would officially determine what was going to happen. The Herald reported the next day that the VFL Players’ Association had been formed, with Pryor named as the inaugural president.
THE PLAYERS’ CHAMPION
The players’ MVP award was first awarded in 1982, with Hawthorn champion Leigh Matthews winning the award for the first time. The players voted to name the award after Matthews in 2001.
VFLPA ENTERS THE AFL ERA
In 1990, the union’s name changed to the AFL Players’ Association to mirror the national change in the competition. That year was also significant because it was the first year that a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was negotiated.
AFLPA STANDS ITS GROUND
On the 20th of January, 1993, a cohort of players met in Melbourne to discuss the withdrawal of recognition of the AFLPA by the AFL. Players threatened strike action to prevent the potential of the standard playing contract being scrapped, which led to the AFL and AFLPA going before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. This resulted in both parties presiding over the Collective Bargaining Agreement of 1994/1995.
FREE AGENCY INTRODUCED
In 2010, the AFLPA negotiated the introduction of free agency to give players the freedom to choose their employer after eight (restricted) and ten (unrestricted) years in the system as of the 2012 season.
INDIGENOUS ADVISORY BOARD FORMED
The year 2011 also saw the establishment of the Indigenous Players Advisory Board, the first of its kind in Australian sport and chaired by Sydney champion Adam Goodes. The Indigenous Advisory Board signed off on the first edition of Many Stories, One Goal, Supporting Indigenous Footballers two years later.
PA WELCOMES AFLW MEMBERS
The AFLPA was recognised as the official representative body for elite female footballers in 2016 and successfully negotiated their pay and conditions for AFLW players ahead of the inaugural season.
PLAYERS WIN SHARE
In June of 2017, the AFLPA finalised a new six-year collective bargaining agreement (2017-2022) for male players that tied to the industry’s revenue for the first time in the history of the game.