AFL reaffirms commitment to AFLW, 2021 season model unveiled

THE AFL has informed AFL Club presidents and CEOs that the AFL Commission ratified a recommendation by the Football Operations Department for no change to the current AFLW CBA and that the 2021 season should commence in February, with a nine-week home and away season, before a three-week finals series. 

Player payments and the current AFLW Football Department soft cap would be maintained as agreed previously, with the 2021 season subject only to how the Australian community was dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic at the time early next year. 

AFL Commission Chairman Richard Goyder said it was the Commission's view that the AFLW was a significant growth area for the game and should not be subject to any reductions for next season, when considering the competition was not able to be completed this year and the fact that AFLW spending within clubs was much smaller than the current spend on the AFL football programs.

The Commission also hosted a meeting via video with Club Presidents / Chairs and CEOs, where AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan provided an update to the clubs on the game's collective financial situation, when considering the initial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in recent months, and the next steps for the industry to move through this initial challenging period.

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"It is the Commission's view that it is critical at this juncture to provide clarity to the AFLW Clubs and players by demonstrating our ongoing commitment to women's football and the NAB AFLW Competition,' Mr McLachlan said.

"All 18 clubs were also given a detailed outline today on the AFL's revenue forecasts for the coming two years, and our outline on the continued work that is required to be done to ensure that the AFL and our clubs collectively are able to manage the significant debt incurred this year as a result of the impact of the pandemic

"The impact on revenue will continue to affect the AFL and the clubs over the next two years and it was agreed that there needed to be a prudent approach in ensuring the code was able to continue to invest in growth and diversity and inclusion while also ensuring it returned to a sustainable financial position.   

"I want to thank our clubs and the football community for the collaborative approach by the industry that has got us to this point and ensured we were able to return to play.  We will need to continue to work together to ensure football gets us through the other side." 

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Mr McLachlan briefed the clubs on the continued work being done to complete the season over the coming months and the various scenarios around different state government and health body rulings on when crowds may be in attendance.

"The AFL will continue to be guided by the advice of government and health authorities as we work through the remaining 127 matches plus finals to complete our season." 

Additionally, Mr McLachlan provided a briefing on the response to the recent positive Covid-19 test by a player, the updated health and safety protocols and the ongoing risk management of the season. 

"On behalf of the AFL competition, I also congratulated the Essendon Football Club for the diligent work it had done in recent weeks around its training protocols, which meant that only one additional player has required to go into quarantine after a confirmed positive test."

"The protocols in place have been established to ensure the safety of the players, their families, clubs, staff and the wider community. The last few days is a reminder to every club that we must continue to be vigilant."