“Clearly we’ve got a situation coming up in a couple of years where the men’s and women’s collective bargaining both finish at the same time. We are having conversations to potentially bring them together but that doesn’t mean that’s how it’ll finish up,” Marsh said.
However, he tried to play down suggestions that male players may have to give up future earnings, if a new broadcast deal did not increase dramatically, so AFLW players could be fairly rewarded.
He said it was a matter for the AFL to invest in AFLW rather than trying to pay the men less so the women could be paid more.
“There’s got to be a conversation around the women’s competition and running it properly and the industry needs to look after it properly,” Marsh said.
“It’s not about the industry pushing this problem to the male players and saying, ‘You pay for the women’. We’ve got to be better than that.”
Collingwood defender Bri Davey said she could see no reason at this early stage why a new deal could not be a joint one although she was reluctant to be too definitive.
“That’s probably a little bit out of my sphere really but I don’t see why we couldn’t do that and bargain it together,” Davey said.
Geelong’s Richelle Cranston, who has played in the competition since it began in 2017, said it was very early to be discussing the next CBA as the women had only just negotiated the current deal.
However, she said she could not “see why it is a problem” if a joint agreement was made.
Cricket Australia struck a joint deal in their most recent CBA with the same base of pay offered regardless of gender and the Australian women’s team is flourishing.
Under the AFLW CBA, clubs pay female players $576,000 in 2020 with payments for individuals ranging from a minimum base of approximately $16,000 for 16 of the 30 listed players, to a high of close to $30,000 for two players per club this season. By 2022 the lowest paid players will receive $20,000 and the highest $37,000.
The AFLW’s revenue has grown 45 per cent year-on-year since beginning in 2017 although the actual figures remain confidential. The partnership base has increased by 35 per cent, with BHP recently striking a three-year deal worth about $5million to partner with AFLW.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.