West Coast AFLW players run out ahead of a practice match against Fremantle on May 4, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

THE AFL is working towards introducing an open-market salary cap in its women's competition as part of a raft of changes expected following its wide-ranging competitive balance review.

The League has recently finished visiting all 18 clubs to canvass opinions on how to improve the player movement landscape and is working through potential changes to trading, the bidding system and pick purchasing among other aspects.

But it has also sought recommendations on improving competitive balance systems in the AFLW and has already told clubs it will strongly consider introducing a national draft as early as this year.


Draftees headed for the AFLW currently have the option of nominating for either a national or state-based pool, with 69 per cent of players already choosing to nominate nationally last year.

But the League is also considering an open-market salary cap in the AFLW, similar to the one used in its men's competition, as opposed to the tiered payment system currently in place.

Currently, AFLW clubs allocate its player payments based on four tiers. The majority use the same payment structure that sees two players on Tier 1 contracts, six players on Tier 2 deals, six players on Tier 3 contracts, and the rest on Tier 4.

The salary for Tier 4 contracts, the lowest of the four-tier system, is due to rise from $55,077 to $67,337 by 2025 as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. That figure will then increase to $70,030 in 2026 and then $72,373 by 2027.

2023 AFLW draftees pose for a photo at the AFLW Draft on December 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

However, under an open-market salary cap, AFLW list managers will be able to pay players a range of different amounts so long as it's under a certain limit in a model that is reflective of the one used in the men's competition.

Speaking to AFL.com.au's trade and draft show Gettable earlier this week, the League's head of football performance, list management and engagement Ned Guy said the proposal was under strong consideration.

"There was really good feedback from clubs," Guy said.

"One thing we're closing on, and we're working really closely with the Players' Association at the moment, we're keen to introduce a national draft which we're hoping we can introduce for this year.

"We're just working through the finer details with the Players' Association at the moment, but we're really hopeful we can get that up. On top of that, we've got to work out timings.

"We're also working towards the model of a more open-market salary cap at some point. Obviously, that's something we can't rush. It's really important we get that right, but we're working closely with the AFLPA on that at the moment."