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AFL reaches agreement with AFLW players for 2020 season
After a period of uncertainty relating to player contracts for the expanded AFL Womens competition, AFLW players have voted to accept a new collective bargaining agreement that secures the league's future for the next three years.
The AFL Players Association (AFPLA) advised yesterday that 98% of players had voted in favour of a new package, compared to the 70% who voted in favour of the previous deal, which had needed 75% support for approval.
Announcing the agreement, AFLPA Chief Executive, Paul Marsh stated “the competition has taken great strides forward each year and this deal guarantees increases in wages, games, training time and funding for off-field support at a time when 120 new playing positions have been created through the introduction of four new teams.
"Our players have a strong desire to keep growing the competition, and while they accept they won't play every team once within this CBA, growth in the number of games will continue to be a priority for players moving forward."
The sticking point in the original offer had been the number of games to be played in-season, with some players wanting a 13-game season, so that every team would be able to play everyone else once.
AFLW is expanding to 14 teams in 2020, with new sides Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast, following the addition of Geelong and North Melbourne in 2019.
The AFL had originally offered a 10-match season in total, including two finals, however a sizeable minority of players within the AFLPA were not satisfied, wanting a shift to a 13-game regular season to allow every team to play each other once.
Last Friday, one of the most high-profile holdouts from the original deal, Carlton's Darcy Vescio, told the ABC the players had dropped their demands for a 13-game season - at least for the current deal - in favour of a compromise.
The new starting point is eight home-and-away matches plus three weeks of finals in 2020, increasing to nine matches and three weeks of finals in 2021, and 10 matches plus three weeks of finals in 2022.
The new agreement also features higher year-on-year pay for players, longer preseasons and more development hours, standard two-year playing contracts, an increase in player development funding and an independent review of the AFLW.
AFL's Head of Women's Football Nicole Livingstone welcomed the players' decision to approve the deal, advising “this is a great outcome for women and girls' football across the country.
"It delivers certainty to the current AFLW playing group and allows investment in the future of women's football to sustain the long-term growth of the women's game at all levels."
The compromise deal means the competition will still be well short of the goal of a full schedule by the end of the agreement.
Speaking last month, AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said he felt it was the right time to expand to 14 teams, advising "I know our clubs who haven't had (AFLW) licences don't feel whole - and so we're trying to expand at the right speed, and I feel OK about going from 10 to 14 teams next year.”
The AFL will today launch the competition fixture schedule for 2020 in Melbourne.
1st April 2019 - Grand Final sees AFLW smash domestic attendance record
1st February 2019 - Lions AFLW team base to be backed by $15 million in Federal Government funding
5th December 2018 - Grassroots sport advocates unimpressed with Grant awarded to Crows AFLW team
31st July 2018 - RSEA Park developments to prepare venue for St Kilda’s AFLW team
11th February 2018 - Optus Stadium welcomes record crowd for AFLW fixturew
30th January 2018 - Fans will make the game in AFLW second season
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