What should the AFLPA push for in the upcoming CBA negotiations?

The AFL has finally got their shiny new broadcast rights deal.

On Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that the incumbent duo of Channel 7 and Foxtel had retained the rights to broadcast AFL and AFLW matches.

For this privilege, they will pay a combined $4.5 billion over seven years, beginning in 2025, with Foxtel bearing approximately 60 percent of the cost.

It’s a huge increase from about $473 million per year for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, to $642 million per year from 2025 and beyond.

This broadcasting money is the financial backbone of the competition – albeit supplemented with attendance fees – and ensures that the competition can run effectively.

As a result of this significant increase in revenue, the AFL Players Association has the perfect opportunity to act.

The AFL’s collective bargaining agreement with its players expires this year, so AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh and President Patrick Dangerfield will renegotiate with the AFL to try and get better rights for the players after this new broadcast rights deal.

The most important thing to note is that the salary cap is directly linked to the competition earnings. For example, in the last CBA, the players managed to negotiate 28 percent of all league revenue up to $6.574 billion, and then 11.2 percent of the additional club revenue above that.

Seems like a lot? In fact, this is absurdly low when you consider the sheer number of players in the league, as well as their critical role in making the sport what it is. Without the players, the AFL simply wouldn’t exist.

Compared to the AFL, the NFL and NBA player associations are much more hostile to the league and therefore more demanding. This is mainly because technically it is not the league that cuts their checks, but the owners of the teams.

It is a more pure form of collective bargaining than the AFL and is more like the negotiation process that takes place in various sectors across Australia. As a result, the NBA and NFL are essentially on an even distribution of revenue. For example, someone like Aaron Rodgers will take home about $50 million in cash this year.

The AFLPA, on the other hand, is much more willing to take on the competition, largely because of the level of control the AFL exerts.

That’s why the highest-paid players from 15 years ago under the 2007-2011 broadcast rights deal, when the AFL brought in “only” $156 million a year (Jonathan Brown and Chris Judd), still only earn about the same amount as the best players. paid players today (your Lance Franklins, Dustin Martins and Jeremy McGoverns) – just over $1 million a year.

AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh speaks

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

While the rest of the league is making more money – 26 players made between $500,000 and $800,000 in 2009, and more than half of the league made between $100,000 and $300,000 – it’s clear that the players should aim for a bigger share of the cake. The average player salary in 2021 is still at a relatively meager $372,000.

Yes, it’s the AFL that’s signing the checks, and the AFL has some other things that they endorse — namely Gold Coast, GWS, and a burgeoning concussion settlement fund. But a 28 percent split with its primary employees is closer to the UFC than other similarly structured sports.

I’ve referred to the UFC here because that agency has actively sought to nullify all fighters’ efforts to unite, and has been continually accused — and rightly so — of not paying fighters what they’re worth. The UFC is a legal cartel with no real competition in their space; that sounds familiar.

The game is making more money than ever before, and yet that rising tide hasn’t lifted all boats the way it should — indeed, the way it has in every other comparable professional sports club.

The Players Association must ensure that the league moves with the times and demands more money, despite the AFL’s grip on the league.

The league can’t cry badly like they did about COVID, nor can they argue that there just isn’t enough money to pay the players. There is enough money to spend well over 28 percent of league revenue on the salary cap, while still leaving enough for the AFL manager to give himself some bonuses.

The players must, and should, push for a much larger slice of the revenue pie than they are currently getting.

But am I confident that Dangerfield and Marsh will do it? Based on history, why should I?

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