There are 12 people on the executive, including football boss Steve Hocking, chief financial officer and general manager of broadcast and clubs Travis Auld and general counsel Andrew Dillon.
But the pay cut for the AFL’s leadership group is viewed as essential given that they are asking the entire industry – the clubs, the players, the coaches and staff – to accept severe austerity measures to enable the clubs and competition to survive the loss of crowds and games and revenue in what shapes as the most serious financial challenge the game has faced.
McLachlan, who said he would take a pay cut on Monday when announcing that the season would be reduced to 17 home-and-away games, was paid $1.74 million in 2016 when the AFL last allowed the chief executive’s salary to be made public.
The figure of 20 per cent is the same amount that the AFL and McLachlan have suggested that the players accept. As yet, the players have not accepted a deal with their union, the AFL Players’ Association, which wanted the AFL to keep open the option of a 22-game home-and-away season.
McLachlan revealed on Friday that games would be shut down for 30 days in the event of a positive test to COVID-19 by any player. Previously, the AFL had said there would be no games for at least 14 days in the event of a confirmed case of coronavirus.
But the shutdown – viewed as a matter of time by the AFL – could last for far longer than 30 days given the government view that the pandemic would not peak for some weeks. A positive test for an official who is in close contact with players also would prompt games to be postponed.
The clubs are still awaiting further guidance from the AFL about cost-cutting and new rules that govern what clubs can spend on football. It is certain that the soft cap on football department spending will be cut, with industry sources saying the AFL is considering a reduction over two years, not just 2019.
The clubs have already taken some measures to reduce costs – such as cutting back on travel and discretionary spending – but are not yet slashing football department budgets, as they will, until the AFL provides further advice.
Essendon will consider delaying some of the construction planned for their Tullamarine headquarters, the incomplete works having a cost of several million dollars. The club’s Hall of Fame and museum are part the next stage of their building project at The Hangar.
The Bombers are looking at creative ways they can still complete those works without risking their financial health, but as with St Kilda – who have major works to complete at Moorabbin that will also cost millions – the facilities are not a priority compared with the club’s immediate challenges, albeit Essendon’s fiscal position is much stronger than St Kilda’s.
Hawthorn have already postponed further work on their planned new facility at Dingley due to the loss of crowds for the foreseeable future and potentially the whole season as a result of the coronavirus.
Jake Niall is a Walkley award-winning sports journalist and chief AFL writer for The Age.