As the vice-president of the AFL Players’ Association, I must start by saying that I’m delighted that the AFLPA and the playing group have been able to secure this new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the AFL.
For the first time ever, AFL player wages will be tied to industry revenue, which is a significant milestone in our history.
The hard work that has been put in by CEO Paul Marsh, president Matthew Pavlich and the wider ‘PA team has been outstanding, and as players, we’re forever indebted to them for negotiating this agreement.
To develop a CBA proposal and then make the accompanying arguments is one thing, but to keep more than 800 players so invested and stick to our guns when things got challenging was colossal.
If we didn’t have this unity from the players from the very beginning, then we wouldn’t have achieved this outcome. Frankly, it has been the most crucial facet of the negotiation process. I can’t speak highly enough of our whole playing group and how patient and understanding they’ve been.
Securing a partnership with the AFL was our goal right from the beginning and we are fully committed to our role within that relationship.
It’s the best model for the AFL and for players because we’re all pushing in the same direction, rather than being at loggerheads over things. We want to be aligned with the vision that the AFL has when it comes to growth and the deal we now have incentivises us to work towards a shared vision.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the fans, who, at times may not have always agreed with us, but ultimately respected and understood our position. We want to enhance the fan experience and bring them closer to the action over the next six years.
It was crucial that this deal wasn’t just about the current playing group because football is a ruthless game, and you’re never the same once you’ve played it.
The agreement we’ve reached shows that both parties also have a tremendous understanding of the importance of investing in areas like player development, wellbeing and concussion research.
The player development realm is something that we continue to grow and evolve, and to secure funding for industry-aligned player development programs and services is something that we should be proud of.
It’s imperative to help players once they finish footy, which is why an annual contribution of into a Lifetime Health Care program and an expanded Injury Fund has been committed.
Improved travel, accommodation and leave conditions will ensure every player has the very best opportunity to perform at their best each week.
Any player who has flown west to play has a real appreciation for how difficult it is, so an allocation of business class flights will reduce the burden on the two WA-based teams.
From here, the opportunity presented to us is exciting.
If you have a little piece of anything, you’re going to put more into it. We’ll go above and beyond because we know it’s not only in the best interests of players, but the best interests of the game.