Players are eyeing a slice of the AFL’s new $2.5billion broadcast deal, pledging to fight for their share of the latest cash windfall.
With a new collective bargaining agreement due to begin in 2017 – alongside the latest deal brokered with the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra – the AFL players association have wasted no time in claiming a chunk of the $435 million a season the code will receive.
The new annual figure has risen 67 per cent from $25 million and Paul Marsh, chief executive of the AFLPA, believes it’s only fair to renumerate the men he represents.
“We’re very serious, we think players deserve a fair share,” he told Melbourne radio station SEN.
“From our perspective it’s now or never.
“We’ve got some leverage up our sleeve if we need it (but) time will tell, we’d rather make this a productive negotiation with the AFL.”
Marsh congratulated AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan on “an incredible deal” that exceeded expectations across the industry.
The AFLPA’s aim is to secure a percentage share of the game’s overall revenue rather than fight for a dollar figure.
Marsh joined the players union in June last year after brokering a similar deal for Australian cricketers.
It’s the same approach Professional Footballers Australia is unsuccessfully fighting for on behalf of A-League players.
While Australia’s soccer players are yet to agree a new CBA, Marsh is confident he won’t be left wanting when he argues the case for a fixed percentage model with McLachlan.
“The beauty of this model is that it aligns the interest of the players and the competition,” he said.
With more than $2.2 billion in cash due to come in from the new deal, McLachlan certainly has options on how to spend it.
Paying off debt from AFL clubs is one option, but Marsh said the league should resist the urge for a quick fix for struggling clubs.
“Hand-outs solve problems in the short term but don’t fix the problems for the longer term,” he said.
“I think the AFL is pretty focused on making sure there is good governance throughout the competitions so we can have a sustainably strong competition.”
He was warmer on a potential AFL buy-out of Etihad Stadium before the agreed hand-over date of March 2025.
“I think that’s a conversation we need to have,” he said.
“It’s obviously been on the table for a long time … it’s been sitting there for a while, maybe they haven’t been able to reach a price.”