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AFL considers short-term player contracts to cover injuries

The AFL could introduce short-term playing contracts into the game for clubs seeking to replace injured footballers mid-season.
Nanjing Night Net

And the rookie player could become a relic of the past as the competition explores ways of simplifying club lists from 2017.

With the league’s finance boss Ray Gunston heading a team of AFL executives addressing each of the 18 clubs regarding the forthcoming carve up of the forthcoming $2.5 billion media rights, the league chiefs have also sounded out club bosses regarding potential list management reforms.

The mooted mid-season draft remains on the table but Fairfax Media understands the AFL’s preferred model is to introduce short-term contracts into the competition. The proposal has not yet been discussed with the players association but if adopted would form part of the next collective bargaining agreement.

Under the reform, clubs suffering long-term player injuries could sign a player from a state league or potentially country or amateur competitions on a short-term deal. The club would have no rights to retain the player beyond the term of the contract.

The short-term contract proposal has received more support at club level than the mid-season draft and is the preferred model of football boss Mark Evans.

Players union chief Paul Marsh said there was some support among the players to abandon the rookie system. “In some quarters there is a view that it is no longer necessary,” he said.

“We’re open to having discussions about all this sort of stuff. In the case of rookies we’ve heard the view that that there are young guys and older guys on rookie lists doing the same work and preparation as the rest so I’m sure that’s something we can explore.”

Gillon McLachlan told 3AW this week that the AFL was examining ways to simplify club lists in the wake of the one-year suspensions handed down to the 34 past and present Essendon players.

“Our view is if there’s ways to streamline the system then we would support that,” McLachlan said.

The complex issues and disputes surrounding top-up players at both Essendon and the five other affected clubs have prompted the push to provide the clubs with more list flexibility.

While a small proportion of clubs remain opposed to abandoning rookies, the majority of clubs questioned to date have indicated they would have no problem widening the team list to include a total 48-50 players on their primary lists, dispensing with the rookie draft and making all listed players available on any given round of football.

Rookie-listed players wages have lifted to see them now earn about 10 per cent less than a third-round draft pick on a basic contract.

With concern around the extra cost of placing the 2016 rookie on a 2017 primary list, one proposal suggested by former AFLPA chief Matt Finnis would see fourth- and fifth-round draft choices signed to one-year contracts.

The investment model discussions headed by Gunston have also included a revolving team of executives – Travis Auld, Andrew Dillon and Evans.

The united view from the clubs addressed is that the AFL must cover the entire cost of the next six years of total player payments.

The clubs remain disenchanted at being forced to carry the cost of some of the benefits granted to the players late in the negotiations during the last protract CBA discussions.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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