WEST Coast players have agreed to higher pay cuts across the board after being assured the club won't be saving money to splash on high-priced recruits at the end of the year.
In a move that has been praised for its efficiency and equitable nature, the Eagles have accepted a seven per cent pay cut across the list.
Clubs have been working through pay arrangements for this year after the AFL's salary cap cut at the end of last season, with many list managers altering contracts and back-ending deals.
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The AFL last year slashed the salary cap by nine per cent to $13.17 million per club but players did not take a nine per cent pay cut. Instead, they had an average cut of 3.5 per cent when taking list-size reductions into account.
The AFL Players' Association also agreed to a model that has seen a range of players affected differently depending on when they signed their most recent contract, with pay deferments available.
It was left to the clubs to decide how to manage their pay decreases, with the Eagles undertaking their unified and player-supported model.
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They have been widely commended by industry sources for their proactive approach last year to be one of the first clubs to sort their payments, with St Kilda also taking a higher list-wide pay drop, with uncertainty also surrounding the collective bargaining agreement from 2022.
West Coast made the decision to double the average pay cut across the board to ensure that after one year the club will be able to right its salary cap position without stretching the pain into further seasons.
The club's professional handling is understood to have included consultation with the Eagles' leadership group and senior players, and an acceptance throughout the playing list to share the financial pain.
Rookie-listed players and first-year recruits at West Coast will remain on their standardised contracts, without pay decreases.
It is understood that as part of the Eagles' players agreeing to a more significant financial hit, they were assured that the money was not being kept to spend on luring another high-priced recruit to the club unless West Coast was to free its own space by unexpectedly losing key players.
The tight salary cap jeopardises hope the Eagles had of luring Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps back to Western Australia, with the gun midfielder one of this year's hottest restricted free agents.
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Outgoing list manager Darren Glass was viewed as instrumental in the dealings, alongside highly rated football boss Craig Vozzo. West Coast is searching for a replacement for Glass, who was seen as a rising star of the industry before quitting last month to take on a high-powered private sector role.
The Eagles have the large majority of their key players already signed beyond this year, with premiership hero Dom Sheed the standout free agent alongside veteran pair Shannon Hurn and Josh Kennedy. Victorian Liam Duggan is also in the final year of his deal.
AFL.com.au revealed last week that a number of clubs around the competition had scrapped their best and fairest bonuses – which are up to $50,000 for the winner – as another means to get under the adjusted cap.