CLUBS are set to strip players of best and fairest bonuses as part of measures to get under the reduced salary cap this year.
In a move that would cost best and fairest winners around $50,000, it is understood multiple clubs around the country have consulted with players and agents on the possibility of removing the pay incentive.
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The League last year informed clubs that while players would be subject to at least a 3.5 per cent pay cut on average this year after the COVID-19 financial hit on the game, another avenue to get under the revised total player payments was to backend deals.
Clubs have been given until February to have their player payment adjustments in order ahead of the season, with many clubs reworking existing deals with players currently.
Most players have best and fairest incentives built into their contracts, with tiered bonuses usually starting at around $50,000 for the winner.
Some clubs do staggered incentives that see second place then pocket $40,000, third $30,000, fourth $20,000 and fifth $10,000. Others grade their bonuses different to reward every player who finishes in the top 10.
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Some marquee players also have more specific bonus triggers, such as finishing in the top two or three of the best and fairest count.
While winners at the clubs wouldn't get their one-off payments under this model in 2021, it is understood clubs would commit to honouring the roll on increased salaries after a best and fairest.
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For instance, some players have it written into their deals that once they win a best and fairest a certain amount of money is added to each of their remaining years on their deal with the club.
First- and second-year players don't have best and fairest clauses written into their initial standard contracts, however breakout players are often later rewarded by their clubs if they record brilliant starts to their careers.
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Players often have a range of bonus clauses written into their contracts, including All-Australian selection, Brownlow and Coleman medal success and being a part of a premiership side.
Clubs have taken various approaches to the salary cap changes for 2021, with some undertaking list-wide pay cuts higher than 3.5 per cent and others making changes to top-end players' deals to move money into later years of their contracts.