Footy's pay war has escalated with the AFLs' latest pay offer set to be rejected by the Players' Association.
The deal offered was heavily front-ended, that would have delivered massive gains in the first season, but increases of 1% per year to follow. The initial 20% boost would increase the average wage for players to $300,000, to $360,000, but the union believe that the smaller raises for the remaining 5 years, would result in players' wealth dropping over the course of the agreement.
The 20 percent increase would boost clubs' wage caps from $10.3m million this year, to $13.1m million next season. It's a significant raise for all clubs, and allows them to throw ridiculous amounts of money at marquee players.
While strike action was considered unlikely in February, it may become a necessary option for the association to push their agenda. Clubs, players and agents alike are becoming increasingly frustrated by the salary standoff, which comes more than 6 months after the last agreement expired. It's especially frustrating for clubs, because they don't know what they can spend over the next 6 seasons, inadvertently leading to a number of players out of contract.
The latest offer by the AFL is near the revenue share percentage the AFLPA is negotiating for, but the dramatic increase of cap for next season will increase pressure on the smaller, less wealthy clubs. Clubs like St Kilda, Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and Gold Coast will have plenty of cap space to offer big contracts to players, but their inability to make ends meet at the moment will be exasperated in coming seasons.
It should be priority number 1 for the AFL to get this deal done. It isn't necessarily a case of just give them what they want, but the AFLPA haven't budged on their demands. Dragging their feet hasn't helped either, with the AFLPA more than happy to play it out through media, turning what should have been straight forward negotiations into a soap drama.
Hopefully it doesn't come to striking, that would be catastrophic for all concerned.
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