THE AFL and AFL Players' Association have reached agreement to vary the Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2021 in response to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and have also agreed to work towards a new agreement for the 2022-2024 period.

The variation for 2021 will see a reduction in Everything Paid to Players and the AFL Player's Association (EPP&A) of 10 per cent which includes a decrease in the Total Player Payments and Additional Services Agreement Limits for 2021 of 9 per cent.

Under the new agreement for 2021:

  • The total TPP for each club will be $12.1m and the Additional Services Agreement Limit will be $1.09m for the 2021 season.
  • Each club must have a minimum of 37 players with a maximum of 44 players.  The primary list must have no less than 36 players and no more than 38 players. The maximum number of Category A rookies will be 4-6 (depending on the number of Primary List Players and with the maximum across those two lists not exceeding 42) and the maximum number of category B rookies shall be 2. 
  • A new minimum base salary category to be added for any player who has previously been Primary Listed and is subsequently Rookie Listed.
  • Payments to the AFLPA/Players that include AFLPA Operating grant and player retirement fund have decreased by more than 10 per cent.
  • Funding for programs and services supporting players, including wellbeing, player development and the injury and hardship fund, remain unchanged

Given the continued uncertainty on the impact of COVID in 2021, the AFL and AFLPA have also agreed to a system for 2021 where players will share in the financial upside should actual industry football revenue exceed the AFL's current forecast and also share in a reduced amount should total industry revenue be lower than the AFL forecasts.
Under the revised agreement, the AFL and AFLPA have also agreed to establish a working party to explore future revenue generation opportunities such as a revised fixture and revised rules regarding independent agreements and commercial restrictions for players.
AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan welcomed the variation for 2021 and thanked AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh and AFL players for their whole-hearted collaboration throughout the 2020 season and their willingness to work with the AFL and clubs to prepare for 2021.
"I want to thank Paul and all the players for the sacrifices they made this year and their ongoing willingness to ensure our industry remains sustainable and strong as we continue to work our way through the ongoing challenges created by the Covid pandemic," Mr McLachlan said.
"Our players have been fantastic in their approach to the game and while everyone across the industry has had to endure some pain, we recognise the importance of the players and the need to ensure we have a system that continues to attract and retain the best athletes in the land."
AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh thanked the players for their commitment to the game in striking a revised CBA. 
"We believe this is a fair deal that recognises the role that players continue to play in driving the industry forward despite the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19," Mr Marsh said. 

"The players take their partnership with the industry very seriously, and the outcome of the revised CBA reflects that, whilst minimising the impact on individual player salaries.

"Importantly, there will be no funding cuts to the programs and services that support the mental health and off field development of players, as well as the injury fund to support our past players.
"In what was an incredibly challenging year for everyone, I'd like to thank the players for their willingness to buy into everything that was thrown at them whilst we worked through a series of complex issues throughout the year, and to Gill and the AFL for importance placed on the playing group in striking a fair deal for players and the game."