AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has defended being paid more than the game’s top players, saying the comparison is invalid.
It emerged early last year that McLachlan was paid $1.7m the year before, while the top couple of AFL players earned $1.2m or more.
The league is locked in negotiations with the AFL Players’ Association over a new collective bargaining agreement.
“I believe I’m competing in a different market to the players – it’s comparing apples with oranges,” McLachlan said.
“It’s illogical, makes no sense.”
While there had been a standoff, pay talks are ongoing.
While the current CBA has expired officially, McLachlan has revealed total player payments for this season have been agreed on to help with the running of the league.
Last week, Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury said if players’ association chief executive Paul Marsh requested, he would sit out the first quarter of pre-season matches as a protest against the AFL.
McLachlan said the sensitive nature of the topic meant he did not want to go into details of the pay negotiations.
“We are working hard … to get a fair deal for the players because they are one of our absolute key priorities,” he said.
“The players having a mechanism where they share in the upside of the game is a principle we absolutely agree with.
“It’s the detail of the mechanism we’re talking about and we’re working on.
“All I’m focused on is a fair deal for the players, because they’re an incredibly important part of our industry.”
The big sticking point is the players’ demand of a set percentage of fixed revenue in the game.
“They are fairly paid, they are elite athletes and they should continue to be paid a fair percentage of the growth of the industry,” McLachlan said.
“We are working constructively to a resolution.”
McLachlan also rejected the suggestion that he was not willing to talk to players, after he did not attend a player meeting late last year in Torquay.
“I reckon every player knows they can ring me and talk to me any time,” he said.
“I am incredibly respectful of their role in our game and I have spoken to a player group.
“I’m happy to talk to any player at any time.”