AFL’s New Boss Proposes Mid-Season Trade, More Thursday Games in $2bn Deal

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Andrew Dillon, the incoming boss of AFL, has proposed that a mid-season trade period could be initiated as early as the next season. This comes as part of a historic joint five-year collective bargaining agreement worth $2bn, marking the first agreement encompassing both male and female players. Among the new initiatives, AFL and clubs will continue to explore trade innovation possibilities. More five-day breaks will also be introduced in the male competition for increasing the number of Thursday night matches.

President of the AFL Players’ Association, Patrick Dangerfield, expressed players’ keenness for additional Thursday games and called upon the league to reassess its 2023 scheduling. He emphasized the desire to start the sporting weekend earlier.

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According to the new deal, each team may have up to three five-day breaks during the home and away season. Dillon indicates that this move will grant the AFL the necessary flexibility to potentially schedule a Thursday night match each round, though it’s not guaranteed to become a permanent fixture. However, he acknowledges the importance of attendance along with considering broadcasting and fan preferences.

Dillon also postulates that a mid-season trade period may be feasible by 2024, with key details still needing discussion with clubs and the AFLPA. This includes discerning any limiting parameters to manage player eligibility during the trading window.

On the contractual front, the new agreement proposes three-year deals for the top 20 picks, with the third year incorporating regulated payments. These payments will account for player performance, ensuring players are fairly compensated following a strong initial two seasons.

In an effort to ease financial hardships, a $40m augmentation to the AFL’s hardship fund will be seen, raising it from $20m to $60m over the next five years. Dillon clarifies that this decision was not influenced by impending class actions concerning concussion.

By the end of the new pay agreement, average earnings for an AFL player will rise from $387,000 in 2022 to $519,000. Meanwhile, the average AFLW salary will increase from $46,000 to $82,000.

Paul Marsh, AFLPA boss, has expressed his satisfaction over the outcome of over a year’s negotiations with the league. He lauds this agreement for successfully advancing the AFLW competition, improving resilient player support, and fostering proactive and collaborative efforts towards matters of gender and race.