Wednesday Whinge – Sort out the CBA!

The AFL Draft rolls around again this week, which is an important time for AFL Clubs to sort out their list strategies, not only for the upcoming season but for future years as well. This year though, because the new collective bargaining agreement has yet to be signed, there are several major questions up in the air that really should have had answers by now and will impact on decisions made later this week.

Questions such as how much the salary cap is going to be? What is the future of the rookie list? What extra media responsibilities will be placed upon players and clubs with the new deal? What happens to free agency? Plus many more items in regards to the drafting of players and how long they can sign an initial contract for as well as the future of concussion related compensation going forward.

These are all questions that in a perfect world would have been answered long ago. Holding things up though appears to be the players, who want as big a slice of the pie as possible and the AFL, who want to pay the players the smallest amount of the pie as possible. Fair enough, but how long will this drag out? Nobody can at this stage rule out a player strike, which as we have learnt from our sporting friends over in the United States, does nothing but hurt the fans and the game.

Currently however, the group who are suffering the most given the situation are the eighteen AFL clubs who have been given very little to work with throughout Trade Period and now on Draft Night. In fact there is about to be a strange situation where a Rookie Draft will be held without the guarantee that rookies will even be in existence beyond next season. You wonder whether list decisions this year will come back and haunt teams because they were made with predictions of caps and rules that do not eventuate or list management ideas that do not add up properly when the new deal is finally struck.

Granted there is a lot to sort through, but it is nearly the end of November and really it is a bit of a joke that it has not been solved yet. The AFL have cleverly managed to stay relevant and in the news cycle right up until now, it is time they put as much effort into getting this deal done as soon as possible.

For the record –

Rookie Lists
It is time rookie lists were scrapped. They do not serve much purpose except for having the ability to put players on a list and then being able to pay them a bit less and give them shorter contracts. Give every team a set number of players to work with who they can call on anytime. Keep it simple.

Free Agency
Players currently become eligible after eight years of service at a specific club. Players want it after six. In this day and age, all you have to do is ask for a trade and you are given one (well unless you are Bryce Gibbs) so does it really matter what happens here? Fair game though, if players can ask to go where they want, clubs should be able to do the same and trade players without consent.

Salary Cap
25% fixed share of revenue is a huge amount of the AFL’s bottom line. This is reportedly what the AFL Players Association wants. By all means fixed revenue sharing sounds like the way to go, but AFL players are well paid as it is, I think a figure slightly south of that will still allow them to survive in the big wide world. This system also keeps players accountable, because if the product increases in value, so will their income.

Extra Media
In the growing world of dedicated television channels and digital content, the new CBA should have parameters that encourage players to be partaking in more media and allowing more access across the season and even out of season. Unscripted content as opposed to well rehearsed trained media lines. It works for the player who can end up benefiting financially out of it, it works for the AFL and certainly there is an appetite for it from the fans. Adelaide’s Josh Jenkins is a big believer in the idea, having written and spoken about the topic extensively. If the players want a bit more, they have to give something in return too.

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