THE AFL has already canvassed with the AFL Players' Association the prospect of footballers taking a sizeable pay cut as they prepare for a significantly shortened season.
The present and impending coronavirus threat has thrown season preparations into "unprecedented" chaos and all potential scenarios are being discussed.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan revealed on Monday afternoon the season would be slashed from 23 rounds to 17, plus finals, with each club playing every other once.
That will not fulfil the previous 198-game allotment that forms part of the six-year, $2.5 billion broadcast rights deal with Channel Seven, Foxtel and Telstra.
Instead, there will be 153 matches – barely 77 per cent of what there is supposed to be – and the AFL faces a yet-to-be-determined financial shortfall that will flow onto clubs and footballers.
McLachlan has already committed to taking a pay cut himself.
"We'll work through with our partners on that. They certainly know that I'm announcing (the season reduction) today and we'll be in discussion with them," he said.
"But I would say they're long-term partners who understand we are in lockstep on this and we're important to them and they're very important to us and we'll work through it."
LATEST NEWS All your COVID-19 updates here
McLachlan also confirmed he had discussed the likelihood of player pay cuts with AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh.
"We obviously had those discussions with the AFLPA; to say there is going to be an amount of pain to be felt right across the industry – and everyone will have to tighten their belts," McLachlan said.
FULL STATEMENT Read McLachlan's speech announcing the 17-game season
"It's clubs, it's the AFL and that includes the players.
"No one's made the final commitments but I couldn't have had a more productive set of conversations with Paul about understanding the gravity of the situation and the fact we have to work together to solve it."
It's understood the discussions between the AFL and AFLPA centred on a player pay cut that was somewhat commensurate to the season reduction.
Player salaries were tied to mutually agreed industry revenues for the first time in 2017, in the last collective bargaining agreement, which expires in 2022.
Multiple sources told AFL.com.au the pay cut in that case could range between 15 and 20 per cent.
NO STATE LEAGUES All second-tier comps shut down for months
Adding further complication is the nature of AFL playing contracts, where front- and back-ended deals are commonplace to help clubs juggle their salary cap demands.
There has been some initial concern from footballers on heavily back-ended deals for this year, who may have to settle for even less again.
The AFL will make a decision by close of business on Tuesday about whether the competition's round one games will go ahead this week, albeit with no fans in attendance.