The CBA's been signed, but what happens now?

THE LONG-AWAITED AFLW Collective Bargaining Agreement is here, and the wheels are in motion for season seven.

What's been agreed? And what's next?

Firstly, give me the top-line view

Top of the list is a 94 per cent pay rise across the competition. Tier one players will earn a minimum of $71,935, with tier four to be paid $39,184. The deal itself will only run for one season, with contracts to be backdated to May 15 and run through to December 31. Only a small number of players occupy the top two tiers, with the vast majority falling into tiers three and four. An estimated 40 players (up from 12) will be paid more than $100,000

Tier

2022A

2022B

One

$37,155

$71,935

Two

$28,697

$55,559

Three

$24,468

$47,372

Four

$20,239

$39,184

 

What does that mean for the total player payments?

With 18 clubs, and list sizes remaining at 30, there will be 540 AFLW players across the competition. The TPP – which is also inclusive of prizemoney – will increase to $25.6million. This is an increase of 146%, with the AFL saying its four times any other professional women's team sport in the country.

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Why just one season?

The starting date for the AFLW season itself has been brought back significantly from December to the weekend of August 25. It left very little time to negotiate the new deal, with pre-season to begin in mid-June and four new clubs joining the competition. The length of the season was a key sticking point in negotiations.

Fremantle and North Melbourne players line up ahead of the qualifying final on March 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

What's the issue with the season length?

The players and the AFLPA are eager to play more games than the current 10, which is staying as is for the upcoming season. There will be an extra week of finals added, and a top eight introduced. The AFL maintain given expansion, it wants to keep an eye on competitive balance, especially given the big gap between teams in the just-finished season.

What else is included in the CBA?

The soft cap now has "enhanced capacity and flexibility", with clubs needed to ensure minimum numbers of medical, physical preparation and high-performance staff.

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What about additional support for players?

Player insurance has now been extended to include aligned second-tier matches (e.g. VFLW, WAFLW), while the Pregnancy and Parental Support Policy has now been extended to parents of children up to three years old, previously at 12 months.

There has also been a doubling of the relocation allowance on offer for players moving interstate.

Nicola Xenos leads St Kilda out through the banner during round eight, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

So, are we going to be back here next year?

The short answer is yes. This isn't the first time a one-year CBA has been signed for the AFLW, with it also occurring in 2019. A three-year deal was later agreed upon for the 2020-2022 seasons. With the pay side of things out of the way, the focus of the next CBA is set to be on extending the season.

What's next then?

We finally have some clarity around competition dates. The expansion signing period will start on May 24, with the full Sign and Trade period to kick off on May 31.

The NAB AFLW Draft will be held on June 29, but pre-season will begin without the full complement of players, starting a few weeks prior on June 13.

The new season will begin the weekend of August 25, with the Grand Final to be played the weekend of November 25.