The Australian Football League (AFL) has finalized an AUD$2.2 billion ($1.4 billion) pay deal with its players, which will include large wage rises for women’s players and longer contracts for first-round draftees in the men’s competition.
The new five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is the first to cover players in both the men’s AFL and women’s AFLW and will see the average wage for AFLW players increase from the current AUD$46,000 per year to AUD$82,000 by the end of 2027.
The length of AFLW seasons will also be increased from 10 matches to 12 in 2025, with the number potentially rising to 14 during the deal depending on reaching key audience metrics – average attendance of 6,000 fans and average broadcast viewers of 100,000.
AFLW will also introduce a 12-month pregnancy policy alongside increased investment into player support and welfare.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said: “The new CBA provides certainty to the players of both competitions. Our AFLW players receive another immediate boost after a historic 94% increase last season.
“And the opportunity is ahead of the competition to continue to grow in length if we can reach some key support metrics that have been achieved before.
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“Together we will focus on expanding crowds and TV audience for the women’s competition while working to engage more women and girls to take up football.”
The average AFL men’s salary, meanwhile, will increase from $387,000 per year to $519,000 by the end of 2027 and first-round draftees in the top 20 will be awarded three-year contracts, up from two seasons to help clubs keep hold of top talent.
The league will also give the AFL past players’ injury and hardship fund $60 million until the end of the agreement, up from the $20 million agreed in the last deal.
In terms of fixturing, there will be more five-day breaks in the AFL – three per club – to accommodate fixture flexibility and the league will also add more Thursday night games.
A new broadcast policy will be introduced, with increased media access to players in the lead-up to matches to better market the game.
The AFL has also confirmed discussions will continue with clubs and the AFL Players Association (AFLPA) on its proposed introduction of a mid-season trade period over the coming months.
AFLPA chief executive Paul March said: “This is a transformative and historic collective bargaining agreement for players, past and present, and the game.
“This CBA presented an opportunity to bring AFL and AFLW players into one joint agreement and we are thrilled to have reached an outcome that enshrines all players as true partners in the game.
“While the financial aspects of this agreement are vital and we are thrilled at the outcome achieved, this was much more than a pay deal.
“We believed this deal provided an opportunity for the AFL industry to significantly advance the AFLW competition, lead the way in respect to the support provided to past and present players, continue to improve the health and safety of players, and work more proactively and collaboratively in areas relating to gender and race. This deal achieves all of these objectives.”