AFL and players close to deal on pay cuts

The AFL and the league's players are close to completing a deal on player payments to help the competition endure the 2020 shutdown.

Sources with a knowledge of the discussions said the AFL and the players' union, the AFL Players' Association, were hoping to finalise the deal shortly and that deal on pay could be finalised as soon as later on Friday.

Despite the conflict and differences of opinion between the AFL and the players during the negotiations, both parties are keen to have the deal resolved soon, allowing the AFL to show the banks their cost savings before the banks grant them a line of credit of more than $500 million.

Sources said the deal, which will see the players take a major cut in pay, will be complicated, because of the doubt about when the games will come back and whether there will be crowds.

The players, led by AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh and AFLPA president and Geelong champion Patrick Dangerfield, want the pay reduction to be less significant when the games come back and if and when crowds are permitted back later this year in a reduced 17-game home and away season.

The players have been criticised in some quarters for the way they've handled the pay negotiation, given the community suffering in the midst of the coronavirus emergency, with AFL great Leigh Matthews saying he had lost respect for the players during this period.

The AFL, while having differences of opinion with the players – and having pushed for a massive cut – still takes the view that the players were entitled to negotiate a deal. The player payments are the biggest chunk of costs for clubs, which have stood down close to 80 per cent of staff in recent days.

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