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AFL Players May Be Asked to Take Pay Cuts to Subsidise AFLW Wages

A future collective bargaining agreement could see male AFL players forced to take a pay cut in order to subsidise the wages of AFLW players.

Logo of the AFLW league

A future collective bargaining agreement could see male AFL players forced to take a pay cut in order to subsidise the wages of AFLW players.

A recent episode of the Sportsday podcast overnight has seen Sam McLure reveal that the AFL Players Association has been alerting clubs to the fact that male players may need to help subside the wages of their female colleagues in the next collective bargaining agreement.

As it stands, a concurrent collective bargaining agreement between the AFL and the AFLW – which was signed back in October – is set to run out in 2022, and with it, the current broadcast rights deal.

“It may impact the future earnings of male players, depending on how much money the AFL gets in its next broadcast rights deal,” he said.

“They did an unbelievable job getting $2.5 billion for their last one [and] I think it’s fair to say it seems unlikely, right as we sit here today, that it would surpass $2.5 billion, given the current climate and market with free-to-air and subscription television.

“If they don’t get that, or they don’t get a huge increase, then it means that the male players are going to be forced to subsidise that of AFLW wages.”

Noting that the AFL has been investing a lot of money in helping to support the AFLW league, McClure explained that the Players Association are currently trying to convince the male players that it’s time to help out – something which has reportedly been received with “indifference”.

“I think some may not be alert to the fact that it is a real possibility,” McClure added. “We may in fact have two seperate collective bargaining agreements going forward beyond 2022, I don’t there will be, I think there will be one, but they won’t like it if it becomes a real possibility when the broadcast rights deal comes to fruition.

“And they may get a Netflix or an Amazon or a Google or a Facebook to in fact invest money in it. If they don’t, I think it’s fair to say that it’s unlikely that Seven and Fox, or Nine and Fox, or Nine and Seven would come up with the 2.5 billion that they got last time.

“The money needs to come from somewhere,” he concluded. “If the AFLW players want a pay increase, that money may have to come out of somewhere else.”

Though McClure admitted that the specific amount the AFLW is seeking is unknown, this situation appears to echo one recently seen by the Caltex Socceroos and the Westfield Matildas, who reached a pay parity agreement in November following years of protesting.

“The new agreement reflects football’s determination to address issues of gender equity in all facets of the game and build a sustainable financial model,” a spokesperson for Football Federation Australia explained at the time.