AFL PLAYERS Association chief executive Paul Marsh has revealed the pay cut deal struck with the AFL on Friday has provided a form of certainty during a time where there is almost none.
Marsh on Saturday told AFL.com.au that he was proud of the way the industry, inside five days of deal-making, reached the outcome in a landmark decision which will allow for the return of matches post-coronavirus outbreak.
"It wasn't a negotiation, we just had to find a solution to the problem; there are no winners," Marsh said.
"We were able to get some certainty on what happens if we play, and also if we don't play. We will continue to deal with what is in front of us."
LATEST NEWS All your COVID-19 updates here
After two weeks of intense dealings, the players on Friday agreed to take a 50 per cent pay cut for at least April and May, and 70 per cent from June if matches are unable to be played.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachan confirmed the deal on Friday night, and thanked the players for their preparedness to sacrifice big pay cuts to assist the overall industry.
"I want to thank the players for how they handled this," McLachlan told AFL.com.au.
"They have made a decision which will ensure we can keep going.
"This issue has been so complex, so fast-moving and we have been able to achieve in a couple of days what would normally take months."
FULL STATEMENT AFL and AFLPA agreement
McLachlan also said the AFL was close to officially securing bank loans of more than $500 million.
Marsh said on Friday: "The players have been rocked by what has transpired all over the world in recent weeks and want to play their role to ensure that our great game comes through this strong and united.
"The players have moved quickly to come to agreement with the AFL and the outcome is a fair one.
"It’s a complex situation and whilst there have been many discussions between the AFL and ourselves this week, they have been constructive and collaborative, and I thank Gill for his support through this. We will come through this a stronger industry despite the adversity we all currently find ourselves dealing with."
Under the agreement, the 50 per cent cuts of April and May will continue if matches are able to be restarted. But the cut will increase to 70 per cent if the stoppage continues.
There is an industry-wide commitment to play matches through to the end of December.
The unknowns attached to the timing of a return to playing and the attendance of spectators greatly complicated negotiations with the players.
GAME OVER AFL postpones season
The AFL has officially paused its season until June and has reduced match quota requirements of each club from 22 matches to 17.
It is highly unlikely matches recommence in June, given all Australian states are yet to even enter the full lockdowns that are now inevitable in attempting to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
The AFL itself and all 18 clubs this week announced the slashing of 80 per cent of jobs.