The AFL and AFLPA recently agreed on a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that will commence with the upcoming 2022 (B) AFLW season.
Announced on 19 May, the new CBA has been welcomed by players, team officials and media commentators alike.
Since the league’s inception in 2017, AFLW has attracted commercial and public support best evidenced through strong TV ratings and in-stadium attendance numbers.
The inception of the league along with marketing campaigns aimed at getting more girls active and involved in sport has led to booming participation numbers in female participation. Female players now make up close to a third of Australian AFL participants, a huge increase year on year and this doesn’t look like slowing any time soon.
The new CBA is highlighted by a 94% increase across all four payment tiers and will make AFLW players some of the best remunerated female athletes in professional team sports in Australia.
In total, the new CBA is a 192% increase from the 2019 equivalent with eight players per club eligible to occupy the top two payment tiers.
Most significantly, the minimum wage (players in tier four) has almost doubled to $39,184 with top performers at clubs earning $71,935 per season.
A full breakdown of the four payment tiers and the respective payment increases over the last four seasons can be viewed in the below table:
Additionally, players will now have their unpaid hours (e.g., maintaining fitness, recovery sessions) recognised while the AFLPA has plans to continue increasing professionalism and working conditions in subsequent CBA’s.
The agreement also confirmed the switch from a summer season to a spring season with season seven of the competition set to commence in the last week of August.
The competition will remain a 10-round home-and-away season followed by a four-week finals series which concludes with the Grand Final on the last weekend of November.
Their aim is to have a full 18 round home-and-away competition running by 2026 with AFLW players classified as year-round professional athletes by 2030, rather than the current full or part-time six-month contracts which sees most players holding employment outside of their playing services.
The Expansion signing period for league newcomers Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney commenced on 24 May 2022 with the Sign and Trade period set to commence on 31 May 2024.
The NAB AFLW Draft will be held on 29 June 2022 with pre-season training commencing for all club on 13 June 2002 as players and support staff prepare for the competition’s biggest season yet.
This is just one of many moves the AFL has made in recent years to establish itself as the team sport of choice for young girls in a competitive market which features traditional powers netball, football (soccer), basketball and cricket.
The AFL now offers some of the most competitive salaries in the country which may incentive some of the country’s best female athletes away from other sports.
The AFL has thrown down the gauntlet with this major AFLW announcement. It will be very interesting to see how netball, football (soccer), basketball and cricket react.