AFLW trade period looms as clubs ponder options for one-off draft

PLAYERS will be free to change AFLW clubs as soon as late February despite the absence of a finalised pay agreement with the League.

As previously reported by, the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement between the AFL and AFLPA is expected to be a landmark joint deal incorporating both men's and women's players.

But the complex agreement – the parties are believed to be working towards a four-year arrangement – is still sometime away from being finalised.

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However, elements of the CBA are set to be agreed upon to allow the AFLW's Sign and Trade period – which clubs are planning to be in late February or early March – to go ahead.

It's not the first time this has occurred, with pay tier structures for the 2020-2022 CBA signed before the season length was later agreed upon. The post-2019 trade period was also held before the full three-year CBA was finalised.

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Last year saw the one-season CBA announced on May 19, with the expansion signing period opening just five days later.

As previously reported by, the upcoming NAB AFLW Draft – which could be held in April – will feature mature-age players only (those born in 2004 or prior). The top-line 2004 talent was scooped up ahead of the extra season in 2022, with some players combining their year 12 studies with matches.

No.1 pick Montana Ham at the 2022 AFLW Draft. Picture: AFL Photos

The 2005-born players – who are 18 this year, with most completing year 12 – will be eligible for the draft ahead of the 2024 season.

It's understood some clubs are concerned about the limited appeal of trading players for draft picks this year, with less value attached to the upcoming draft due to the absence of a fresh group of elite talent.

It is likely clubs will not have to take three open list spots in their squads of 30 to this particular draft (as has been the case in the past) given the special restrictions around mature-age talent, but the exact number is yet to be determined.

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Some clubs have already delisted players, with West Coast having cut four, the most of any side. The Eagles' full season seven list, inclusive of inactive players, was 33, meaning it is now down to 29.

Melbourne has also made four changes, including the retirement of Daisy Pearce, but like the Eagles, had an extended squad of 33 last season, with three players rehabbing long-term injuries.