AFL clubs face drastic cuts but also prep for extra games


Some non-essential staff are working from home for at least the next two weeks, mirroring what’s happening in many other workplaces around the country.

The AFL is also understood to be prepared to reduce wages for its staff and bring down costs, but has not stated whether it may take money from its future fund or other savings.

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Industry sources have told The Age all AFL clubs will have to show the league they have reduced costs by millions of dollars to reduce the impact of the losses from playing behind closed doors or even postponing games in the weeks to come.

Many of the cuts are likely to be outside of the senior men’s AFL sides, with community programs and player appearances to go on hold temporarily. Academy programs, contributions to state league teams and non-essential flights and travel will also be stopped or reduced.

Some clubs sent out emails to their supporters over the weekend preparing them for the season starting behind closed doors and other unforseen changes in the weeks to come.

Geelong president Colin Carter and chief executive Brian Cook warned clubs are bracing for a financial hit.

“All AFL clubs will face significant financial challenges if the season goes far without spectator attendance,” they wrote in a message to members.

“We are already starting to work through what we need to do to deal with this.

“There will be many more questions that cannot be answered at this time but we will provide regular updates as more information becomes available.”

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Some chief executives want the league to give them confidence or some form of guarantee that when normalcy returns, the league will help them bring their budgets and staff back to the current level. Some fear cuts made now won’t be regained.

Both clubs and the league are seeking additional human resources advice on their staff options.

Clubs are also preparing for the possibility that they will need to play multiple games each week once the pandemic has ended and the league can operate at full capacity as they work to make up any lost games.

But how that would work and how any supplementary or temporary player signings will transpire remains unclear, while football departments are also planning for how they can keep players fit during such a schedule.

This season will see challenges not seen in the sport since the World War II but what those challenges will be is changing daily with new advice from the government and health experts.

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AFL teams are still having team training sessions but whether that continues is uncertain. NBA clubs have banned team training sessions due to the risk of transmitting the virus while the league is suspended. Several NBA players have tested positive for coronavirus.

US media reports clubs have told players to train individually under a “one player, one coach, one basket” rule but an AFL equivalent appears impractical.

“We will be doing everything we can do to keep our players and staff free from infection and this will involve minimising their public exposures,” Carter and Cook wrote.

“We ask for your support as this will mean changes to many of the things we have done in the past.”

with Peter Ryan

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