AFL, players stalled on new deal talks

The AFL and the players’ association remain confident of a swift end to their collective bargaining agreement negotiations, despite a glaring lack of progress.

The AFL and the PA have had fortnightly meetings in the last couple of months, but the CBA negotiations are stalled on two key issues.

Without a breakthrough on those two points, the negotiations risk becoming a war of attrition.

The players are adamant about the agreement changing so they have a fixed percentage of league revenue, around 25-30 per cent.

They say the current model does not give them a fair deal.

They also want the AFL to provide them with a forecast of its revenue over the period of the new agreement.

Their argument is they are missing out on new revenue that emerges during the term of the CBA.

As late as last month, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said he was hopeful the new deal could be struck in June or July.

But the AFL has given no indication that it will agree to the fixed percentage model.

The PA privately also remains upbeat about the negotiations, even though the fixed percentage demand looms as a key stumbling block.

Publicly, PA chief executive Paul Marsh and prominent stars such as Scott Pendlebury have talked down inevitable speculation about industrial action.

Asked last week if the players could strike, Pendlebury said: “you can never say never”, but doubted it would come to that.

Given the apparent goodwill between the two parties, the more immediate issue is how long the negotiations will take.

While the current agreement expires in October, there are provisions for extending that deal if the deadline is looming and negotiations are still ongoing.

Another potential issue is the length of the new CBA.

This deal runs in tandem with the AFL’s bumper broadcast rights agreement, that is also up for negotiation.

Again, it will hinge on whether the players succeed in negotiating a fixed revenue percentage.

The PA is pitching its proposed agreement as a true partnership with the league, with money one of several priorities.

It wants the new deal to also cover areas such as female players, diversity and free agency.

The association proposes that players become eligible for restricted free agency after six years, not the current eight-year trigger.

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