AFL, players remain at loggerheads


But sources say the AFL wants a bigger cut and there is also a question of the length of time of any reduction when no one can say with any certainty when or if the season will resume.

The AFL’s demand comes as league heavyweights open discussion with major banks, including the NAB, attempting to receive a line of credit that sources said was expected to exceed $600 million.

But the banks have asked to see evidence that the AFL is restructuring its business; hence the massive cut of staff and the heated debate with the players’ association.

Players have received minimal public support for their position, which was dented badly when one of the game’s foremost former players, Leigh Matthews, said that he had lost respect for the current playing group. The players’ most valuable player award is named in honour of Matthews.

But the restructured season – and the enormous uncertainty about when and if games will be played – has confused the negotiations, the AFL having said they are prepared to play games up until December to finish the season, which is already reduced, at best, to 17 rounds and finals.

Greater Western Sydney spearhead Jeremy Cameron, slated to be the game’s highest-paid player in 2020, is a standout example of how the pay cuts impact on individual players. Cameron heads into 2020 due around $1.5 million, due to a back-loaded contract, but he is also out of contract as of October 31.

If games are played in November and December and players are needed to take to the field two to three times a week, it is unclear how their contracts can be re-worked and precisely what they would be paid.

The players, via their union, are putting these questions to the AFL during discussions, and they are part of the “intricacies” AFLPA president Patrick Dangerfield has spoken about.

Dangerfield pleaded with the public to appreciate the complexity of the situation before “shooting from the hip”.

“I think the next step is getting clarity around the finances of the game and where the line of credit or whatever it might be sits with the cost of keeping the whole competition running without games and without any income,” Dangerfield said on SEN.

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He said the players were “absolutely” prepared to take longer-term pay cuts.

“We need to be in sync with the AFL so it’s not asking for something that’s totally unreasonable, it’s going ‘yep we understand where you’re at, now let’s come to an agreement that looks after all parties’.

“We have a responsibility to the game absolutely, but we have a responsibility that we are looking after our players and their families.”

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