The demands of playing professional sport, particularly in the AFL, have never been higher. The rigours athletes put their body through on the field are compounded with the intense scrutiny they receive off it from media and fans alike.
However, in light of the landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) struck between the AFL and the AFL Players Association last month, the remuneration and benefits the players receive will, at least, be brought into line with the dedication and professionalism they show week in, week out, both on and off the field.
The six-year deal, heralded as a “great outcome for [the] industry” by AFL chairman Richard Goyder, sees a total of 28% growth in the total player payments across the six-year period, and is worth a total of $1.84 billion according to the AFL Players Association. Additionally, for the first time, future increases in wages will be linked with both AFL and club revenue streams to ensure players don’t miss out on a cut of the growth of the game.
For clubs, this increase in the salary cap may be the difference between retaining the services of out of contract stars, such as Dustin Martin or Nat Fyfe, or losing them to rival clubs. As a result, a number of player re-signing’s are expected amongst the clubs due to the greater certainty surrounding the entitlements under the new deal.
Importantly, provisions have also been included in the new CBA for concussion research, lifetime healthcare, player development, wellbeing and support, and a fund has been established to support players through the not-always-easy transition to life after footy.
As the AFL Player Association CEO Paul Marsh stated, “the CBA rewards the players for the role they’ve played… in making our game great.” Not only this however, the model instils a vested interest for the players to complement the AFL’s work in pursuing growth of the game from the grassroots level.
In this sense, the deal is far more wide reaching than just the player’s hip pocket – it ensures the future of the nation’s game for years to come.
Whilst the demands of the game continue to increase, and the ever-developing presence of new media forms has added another layer of scrutiny, the new CBA strikes a great balance for not only revenue sharing, but consistent growth of the game.
Over to you now Cricket Australia...
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This article has been prepared with assistance from Seasonal Clerk, Lachlan Howe