The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown clubs into uncharted territory with many implications - one being the ability to afford player and coach payments.
The AFL have released recommendations in relation to salary caps and player payments – these can be read here.
Any reduction in player or coach payments require renegotiation on player declarations, player contracts or coach contracts with new terms being accepted by both parties.
This conversation could be difficult, but these tips should help your club navigate through the conversations.
Covid-19 has caused a lot of disruption to many daily lives. It is very important to show empathy during these times. Check in on your players, coaches and members and ensure their mental health is ok. If they are needing extra help, be equipped with information and contacts to point them in the right direction.
If the conversation is “going south,” it’s important to listen to their concerns, and to ensure they feel heard. Ensure you don’t rush to judgment or defence if someone is expressing concern or dissatisfaction with the proposed changes. Also, remember not to take it personally.
Have the right people involved in the conversation
Consider who should be involved and leading the conversations. This may vary depending on each group and having others may provide moral support while having these difficult chats. It also shows a united front in difficult times. Consider having the following people:
- Players = Coach and President / Football Operations Manager
- Coach = President and Secretary/Coach Coordinator
Create the narrative - focus on the "WHY"
The impacts of Covid-10 are being felt far and wide and community clubs are not immune. Start by explaining the impact Covid-19 has had on the sport and your club specifically and why the club needs to reduce expenses like player, coach and umpire payments.
The impacts could include:
- Player and member retention
- Volunteer retention
- Reduced registration
- Loss in sponsorship dollars
- Loss of match-day revenue (gate, canteen, bar)
- Challenge to fundraise
- Inability to meet financial requirements
The elite game is also not immune with coaches, players and staff taking large pay cuts to help keep the game alive. At community level, a significant number of league operations staff have also had to be stood down.
Explain what's happening
It’s important to share as much information as you can during these conversations.
Think about answering these questions during your conversation:
- What is happening? What are the proposed changes?
- Why is this happening?
- When will it take effect?
- What needs to be done for this to take effect?
- How many people are being impacted at the club?
- Is this a one-time thing, or are there other potential cuts in the future?
- Are other things going to be cut, like benefits?
- When will payments return to 'normal'?
- What are the club’s long-term plans to get through this?
- Who can they contact if they have questions?
Don't be afraid to write down what you need to say. This may help ensure you don’t miss anything during the conversations.
Follow-up with each person individually a few days post the conversation. It's important to check in with everyone to make sure they are ok and if they have any questions. It will also show you care.
If a club is using the standard Player Declaration (Appendix 1), the club has two options:
- Use existing Player Declaration – clubs need to cross out the old conditions and write in the new conditions. The player and club both need to initial against each change to show acceptance.
- Use new Player Declaration – both parties need to sign off on the new conditions to show acceptance.
If the player declaration/contracts are unique, we recommend you seek legal advice to ensure negotiations and changes are done within legal parameters.
If you need more assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.