Following a set back in early October, the AFLW players group has now approved the new Women’s collective bargaining agreement, which means the 2020 season will go ahead and pre-season will start on Monday, November 11.
The 98 per cent approval rate by the AFLW’s playing group comes after AFL CEO, Gillon McLachlan, AFL Players Association CEO, Paul Marsh, AFL head of women’s football, Nicole Livingstone and AFL footy operations boss, Steve Hocking, met with player representatives last Monday.
The AFLPA has an internal requirement that any CBA needs 75 per cent player approval before it can be signed off and only 70 per cent of the players voted to approve the initial deal in October, with the main sticking points believed to be the length of the season and concerns over a perceived lack of clarity on the finer details of the deal.
Also included in the new three-year CBA is a commitment to an independent AFLW Competition Review, which a joint press release from the AFL and AFLPA said would allow the industry to “improve its understanding of the unique challenges faced by AFLW players, and identify new opportunities to ensure the league continues to thrive.”
“There’s some work to be done with the AFLPA and the AFLW players in terms of setting what it is they would like to look at from an AFLW competition point of view and the areas of focus,” Livingstone said in reference to the review.
“That will then come into the AFL and we’ll have a chat about what the terms of reference look like and then we’ll move forward from there.
“Another area of concern was their first payment, which wasn’t coming through until December. So, therefore, there was a month they weren’t getting paid or being paid late for. Once we know that, then we can fix it. They’ll be now paid within two weeks of entering the clubs.
“It’s not a breakdown in communication, it’s more this competition is so new, so we’re discovering things as we go along that aren’t just an issue for the playing group, but also for the competition itself.”
Players must now have key season dates communicated to them with a minimum of four months’ notice, a point of significant frustration among the playing group considering their external work and study commitments.
The competition is currently undergoing a second round of expansion, with Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast joining for the 2020 season, meaning a total of 14 clubs will take part next year.
“The competition has taken great strides forward each year and this deal guarantees increases in wages, games, training time and funding for off-field support at a time when 120 new playing positions have been created through the introduction of four new teams,” AFLPA CEO, Paul Marsh, said.
“Our players have a strong desire to keep growing the competition, and while they accept they won’t play every team once within this CBA, growth in the number of games will continue to be a priority for players moving forward.
“We are also pleased to have a commitment to an AFLW Competition Review, which will allow us to work closely with players and the industry on matters of importance to ensure AFLW players have every opportunity to thrive.”
The AFL has been steadfast in its belief that every match must be televised to help build the game, but broadcasters have restrictions on the number of rounds they can show, with 10 believed to be the most at the moment.
Total player payments will increase year-on-year, in part down to an increase in contracted hours.