The AFL and its clubs are reeling following a brutal day of job cuts prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, which has halted the season after just one round and plunged the industry into financial chaos.
Roughly 80 per cent of the AFL’s workforce has been stood down, with the competition postponed until at least May 31.
Staff at all 18 clubs were let go on Monday as Australia’s richest sporting code grapples with the most challenging period in its history.
Players have offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut for at least the next two months, while coaches last week agreed to a 20 per cent reduction in salary when games were being played in empty stadiums. That figure is sure to increase.
The sport’s leaders spoke about the pain of what is being labelled football’s ‘Black Monday’.
“It’s been a tough day and it was really about getting our players the best possible care we could, making sure we get them set up in what is going to be a challenging couple of months,” rookie Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks told Fox Footy.
“Our priority was to really get them with loved ones… with borders closing down it’s more of a challenge travelling around the country.”
AFL executives, including chief executive Gillon McLachlan, are taking a minimum 20 per cent pay cut.
All remaining staff at the AFL will have reduced hours during the shut-down period, while casual workers have been let go.
“This has been a very tough day for every member of our team. I am enormously proud of the team that works at the AFL, which makes these steps so difficult to undertake,” McLachlan said.
“Once the temporary suspension period is completed, our plan is to complete the remaining 144 games plus finals.
“We will continue to monitor the May 31 resumption date, taking the best advice from government and relevant medical authorities.”
Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko said player pay cuts were inevitable but he was seriously concerned about staff who have lost their jobs.
“I’m thinking more about the great people at our football club we had to let go today,” he told Fox Footy.
After Wednesday, players will be unable to return to their clubs for at least five weeks as the industry shuts down to help combat the spread of COVID-19.