AFL men may help AFLW pay push

For the new CBA starting from 2023, The Age has been told players will ask for quarters to be reduced by several minutes.

In 2015, the AFL struck a colossal broadcast rights deal with Channel Seven, Foxtel and Telstra for $2.508 billion – an incredible $418 million per year, which equated to a 67 per cent rise from the previous deal.

That lead to a 20 per cent pay rise for AFL players and Marsh helped negotiate a landmark 28 per cent share of revenue from the game.

In the final year of the deal, the average AFL player will earn $389,000 and the salary cap will be $13.54 million.

But industry sources remain sceptical as to whether league chiefs can match, let alone improve on that deal for 2023 onwards.


With free-to-air and subscription television networks unlikely to be able to stump up the same cash, the AFL has turned to streaming services to help drive up the price.

As The Age revealed last April, league boss Gillon McLachlan led a fact-finding mission to the United States to meet with tech giants Amazon, Google and Facebook.

Television sources believe the AFL will struggle to match the dollars in the next broadcast rights agreement unless a major streaming service becomes involved.

One outcome could see a streaming service buy the rights to one particular timeslot, such as Thursday night football, and leave the rest to free-to-air and subscription.

The long-term strategy of a joint CBA between men and women was first raised by the AFL on the eve of last season.

At the time, the AFLPA voiced reservations with the idea.

St Kilda AFLW co-skipper Rhiannon Watt and AFL midfielder Jack Sinclair talk shop.Credit:Getty Images

“It might be a simpler process and we might achieve a deal that benefits both,” Marsh said last year.

“[But] the negative would be there’s a subsidisation of one playing group to another playing group and it’s important they [the AFL] realise we’re awake to that.”

Yet it appears the players’ union have at the very least come around to the idea, to the point where they are flagging it with their constituents.

Sources close to the union say the joint CBA is no guarantee, but the fact players are being alerted to the possibility would suggest it’s more likely than not.

Not all clubs have yet been briefed by Marsh and his team.

The AFL have been contacted for comment.

Marsh declined to comment.

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