Departing AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis had a chance to reflect on his nine years at the ‘PA at a press conference on Tuesday. Sitting alongside Players’ Association President Luke Ball, Finnis spoke with pride about the PA’s accomplishments during his tenure.
Finnis cited the introduction of free agency as one of the more significant changes to occur in recent years.
“Some of the fear that was felt in relation to what free agency might mean to the game – I look around now and I’m pleased to see the sky hasn’t fallen and that the game has actually benefited,” Finnis said.
“We’d done the research. We were confident it was going to be an example of where we could introduce a policy that benefits the players, but ultimately benefits the game [as well].
“That will be something we look back on fondly as being a pivotal moment in the history of the ‘PA. If you look at other Players’ Associations around the world, they often point to the freeing up of the labour market as a pivotal moment.”
Finnis also touched on equalisation – one of the biggest current issues for the Players’ Association.
“Whether you’re a big club or a small club, you’re a club in a competition where we’ve all got a common goal, and that is to ensure the game is as healthy as it can be,” he said.
“That’s why it’s really important that the industry comes together – players, clubs, the AFL – and takes a global perspective to say, ‘how can we work together to share our interests, to make sure our game is as successful as it can be?’
“The Players’ Association has never been about one person, and that is certainly the case now” – Matt Finnis
“I’m very optimistic our industry is capable of rising above the specific interests of different stakeholders in order to get the right outcome.”
Equalisation may be the last major challenge Finnis deals with before leaving the ‘PA, but the departing CEO is confident the Players’ Association will continue to flourish after he leaves.
“The Players’ Association has never been about one person, and that is certainly the case now,” he said.
“We have a very committed board; we have a very experienced and talented advisory board, and a wonderful group of executives who are well-placed to take this organisation forward.”
“Footy will always have its challenges. The work we’ve done over the last few years at the ‘PA has been to face challenges head on and to approach them with conviction and courage, but with a strong sense of our values and principles.”
Finnis is proud of the way the players have conducted themselves in recent seasons, and is looking forward to championing their cause for the remainder of his tenure.
“The players have really demonstrated their shared leadership and their strong values in the ways in which they’ve handled some extremely complex and tricky situations.”
“The board’s been very supportive of me, and this is my opportunity to continue to support the Association – in the way I handle myself on the way out.
“That’s something I’ll take great pride in. My focus will be to provide whatever support the board wants me to, as we conclude the current equalisation policies and player payment reviews.”