I waited nearly all year for it to happen, and in the end it didn’t.
A new collective bargaining agreement has been put in place for the 2021 AFL season, with primary lists to be cut to 38 and player payments also reduced.
The variation for 2021 will see a reduction in Everything Paid to Players and the AFL Player’s Association (EPP&A) of ten per cent, which includes a decrease in the Total Player Payments and Additional Services Agreement Limits for 2021 of nine per cent.
But because list sizes will also be reduced, it means individual players who are retained will have their pay cut in the vicinity of 3.5 per cent instead of nine per cent.
The total player payments for each club will be $12.1 million for the 2021 season, and the Additional Services Agreement Limit will be $1.09 million.
Each club must have a minimum of 37 players and a maximum of 44 players on their list, taking in all categories.
The primary list must have no less than 36 players and no more than 38 players.
The maximum number of Category A rookies will be four, five, or six depending on the number of primary list players. The maximum sum across those two lists can’t exceed 42.
Each club will be allowed a maximum of two category B rookies.
Funding for programs and services supporting players, including wellbeing, player development and the injury and hardship fund, remain unchanged.
Given the uncertainty of the impact COVID-19 will have on next season, the AFL and AFLPA have also agreed to a system for 2021 where players will share in the financial upside should actual industry revenue exceed the AFL’s current forecast.
They will also share in a reduced amount should total industry revenue be lower than the AFL forecasts.
Under the revised agreement, the AFL and AFLPA have also agreed to establish a working party to explore future revenue generation opportunities such as a revised fixture and revised rules regarding independent agreements and commercial restrictions for players.
“Our players have been fantastic in their approach to the game and while everyone across the industry has had to endure some pain, we recognise the importance of the players and the need to ensure we have a system that continues to attract and retain the best athletes in the land,” AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.
AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh felt it was a fair deal.
“The players take their partnership with the industry very seriously, and the outcome of the revised CBA reflects that, whilst minimising the impact on individual player salaries,” Marsh said.
“Importantly, there will be no funding cuts to the programs and services that support the mental health and off field development of players, as well as the injury fund to support our past players.”