AFL players would get a pay rise this year of almost 25 per cent after the league put forward a revised offer to the players union in protracted pay talks in recent days.
In the first meaningful movement in talks since August last year, the league has discussed an increase of about $45 million for this year in the total player payments, an increase that would represent a rise of close to 25 per cent increase on last year.
Despite the huge jump in year one, the increases in the subsequent five years of the six-year collective bargaining agreement are modest and the players view is that the league’s total offer over the six-year term represents less in terms of a percentage of revenue than they are receiving now. The league is expected to forward the improved pay offer to the AFLPA in writing in coming days. The total player payments increase will also be slightly offset by changes to the veterans allowance.
Some players, including highly prized Adelaide key defender Jake Lever and ruckman Sam Jacobs have put off talks on a new contract until the new CBA is completed.
“In terms of my contract status, I’m sort of waiting for the CBA to be done, but my manager is in constant talks with the club,” Lever said last week.
“With the CBA not being done, it’s almost like you’re building the house without a budget, so you don’t really know what you’re working with.”
Clubs had budgeted for a 10 per cent increase this year. A figure that clubs had been told to budget for in 2017.
The AFLPA will continue to push for significant rises beyond this season.
The players have made a number of concessions in discussions, but are continuing to push for a percentage of key game revenues.
While the AFL and the players are close to reaching an understanding over a mechanism where the players will receive an uplift should AFL revenues exceed forecasts, the two parties have hit a stumbling block over rises for players for an increase in club revenues.
AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan returned last month to the negotiating table.
The two parties are talking regularly, meeting on a weekly basis, with the players determined that their wage rise will come into play in 2017, the first year of the new six-year, $2.5 billion broadcast agreement.
While the players have agreed to set aside some of their demands, the union remains determined to push for two mid-season byes despite the AFL’s opposition and a lack of public support. The AFL is determined to have no mid-year bye and one at the end of the season.
Although the AFL offer represents some progress, clubs fear the two bodies remain significantly apart in terms of the pay increase after the first year and the longer it drags on the harder it is for them to complete deals with valuable unsigned players and oversee significant list-management decisions.
The clubs are taking comfort in the fact the AFL will fund all future rises in the salary cap.