FULL-TIME and part-time coaches from various clubs have this week been made redundant – not just temporarily stood down – as the coronavirus-inflicted damage to the AFL continues.
Sunday's unprecedented suspension of the season has wreaked havoc across the industry, from players to coaches to high-ranking football officials and almost everyone in between.
League and club decision-makers were forced in recent days to stand down about 80 per cent of their staff in order to survive the shutdown period, which will last until at least May 31.
The redundancy news follows AFL.com.au revealing on Tuesday that teams must slash their 'soft cap' expenditure from $9.7 million to $8.7 million for this season, then down again to just $6.7 million for 2021.
It's believed most of the soft cap is spent on staff salaries.
The coaching redundancies have so far targeted development and part-time skills coaches, while coaches out of contract this year are considered the most vulnerable.
Those employees won't return this year, even if the season does resume at some stage in the next few months, as clubs brace for long-term hardship.
Some clubs have informed their coaching staff they will all have a job once the season starts again, although almost certainly on reduced hours and money.
How the AFL's coaching structure will look in the post-COVID-19 world remains to be seen but football greats Matthew Lloyd and Malcolm Blight are among the high-profile voices to offer their thoughts.
The soft cap was designed to lessen the gap between the haves and have nots, enabling all clubs to invest beyond the traditional coaching positions.
However, the packed coaches' boxes, new titles and increased focus on technology doesn't appeal to everybody.
"I went through some team lists today (and) there's 11 coaches, and I'll list some of these roles: game intelligence manager, senior performance analyst, data coordinator, IT systems administrator, performance analyst," Lloyd said on Channel Nine's Footy Classified.
"You look at Essendon's coaches' box last year; look how many laptops there are – there's about 15 laptops in that coaches' box – so you can't tell me this game hasn't been over-coached.
"Let's hope that we can strip it right back. I know I'm talking about job losses here, which is really sad, but I think we get back (to fewer coaches)."
There is also a belief among coaches AFL.com.au spoke to that a reshuffle could result from the job cuts.
Directors of coaching – such as Hawthorn's Brendon Bolton and Melbourne's Alan Richardson – and heads of development could end up being a luxury clubs can no longer afford.
In that scenario, those experienced staff may end up filling line coaching roles instead, in a smaller crew underneath the senior coach.