The average AFL player will earn more than $250,000 a season from next year if the players’ union says yes to a new pay deal.
The AFL has boosted its pay offer to players to $1.144 billion over the next five years – a deal it says will lift players’ average salaries by 11 per cent in 2012.
But the league has again refused to budge on the players’ major demand – that they are paid a fixed percentage of revenue.
Instead, it has tabled what it says is a final offer to the players, including increases in retirement fund benefits and minimum wages for rookies, as well as a $10 million pool for top-flight players to promote the game.
The offer is a fixed dollar amount, rather than the 25 to 27 per cent of revenue that the players – through their union, the AFL Players’ Association (AFLPA) – have been demanding.
“It’s the final offer – there is no more money,” AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said of the league’s offer, which was tabled at a meeting between all parties in Melbourne on Tuesday night.
“The offer is a final offer – it is a total offer in dollars.
“It is one of the best improvements in real wages and benefits for any workforce in Australia.”
The deal is a total increase of more than $300 million on what players were paid under the previous five-year collective bargaining agreement, and up $54 million on the league’s initial offer to players in May.
Should players accept the deal, the league says AFL players’ average salaries would increase from $236,000 in 2011 to $262,000 next year and beyond $300,000 in the final year of the agreement.
Retirement fund contributions would double from $36 million in the previous five-year agreement to $72 million under the deal from 2012 to 2016.
The minimum rookie wage would increase from $35,000 a year to $49,000, and an ambassadors’ fund would be set up – with a total of $2 million available annually to be paid to players for promoting the game.
The players have until September 15 to respond to the AFL offer, although the AFLPA have indicated they won’t be rushed into meeting that deadline.
The association welcomed the increased pay offer from the league, but said they were unsure whether the improved terms would be enough to reach an agreement.
AFLPA boss Matt Finnis said it was too early to say what action players would take if they rejected the offer.
But he ruled out any prospect of industrial action disrupting the finals series or Brownlow Medal this year.
“Our members’ focus is on playing the finals, on achieving the ultimate success, which is a premiership cup,” he said.
“There’s no suggestion from the AFL Players’ Association or the players that there would be anything done to detract from that this September.”