As the NFL finally resolved its lockout, another national football league is heading towards one.
The Australian Football League’s (AFL) Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is due to end after the current season, and the sides are still stuck on a few important points, one of them being the same problem the NFL faced – Distribution of Revenue.
In the current CBA, there is no fixed percentage of revenue allocated to players, but the distribution is usually around 22%. What the players are looking for now is a figure of 25-27%. That’s not a typo. Only 25-27%. Compared that to what players earn in leagues such as the NBA (57%), NFL (About 48%) and the NHL (54-56%), and that is a minuscule amount.
Not only do the players receive a relatively small percentage of revenue, but the rookie pay scale puts players who are taken in the later rounds annual salary under the average wage of Australians. A third round rookie will receive a little over $51,000 plus match payments of $2,900 per match in his first year. However a player who is rookie listed receives only $34,600, with many never playing a game. The average Australian wage is around $68,000. Add in the fact that many of these players will have relatively short AFL careers, it stresses that this area needs to be addressed.
While the players have stressed they will not strike to push through a deal, they have been quite vocal in the possibility of protesting in other ways. This may include covering the AFL logo on their jerseys, boycotting the Brownlow Medal count (MVP award) and wearing red armbands to show their bond. Other drastic measures have also been announced, such as boycotting the pre-season competition or the International Rules series.
The battle, however, is being played out a little different to that of how the Big 4 operate. The AFL clubs aren’t owned privately, so the negotiations are between the AFL’s Chief Executive Andrew Demetriou and the AFL Player’s Association (AFLPA). This would lead you to believe that with less parties involved, a deal will be struck sooner. However this is not the case.
The AFL has already come to the players and offered a flat figure of $1.1 billion over 5 years, but the AFLPA found this unacceptable. They believe, with the new TV rights deal in place next year, that this figure severely undervalues their contribution to the sport.
With only 4 rounds of the regular season left, there doesn’t appear to be a sense of urgency about the negotiations, which should leave fans worried judging by the time the NFL and NFLPA took to agree to their deal.
The players aren’t asking for the world, and the AFL should be grateful they aren’t asking for a figure in the region of their overseas counterparts.