The 2020 AFLW season is in fresh jeopardy after a failure to agree terms between the players and their governing body for the next three years.
Currently, there are 18 rostered Irish players spread across an expanded 14-team League for 2020 but divisions over a proposed collective bargaining agreement (CBA) have placed the commencement of next season in limbo, just weeks before the anticipated start of pre-season training.
The CBA agreed between the sport’s governing body and the AFL Player’s Association (AFLPA) received 70 per cent of the player vote, requiring a 75 per cent majority to pass.
The deal covers the next three seasons and provides for enhanced conditions and the schedule and structure of the competition in a semi-professional League.
This year, four new teams; West Coast, Richmond, Gold Coast and St. Kilda, will join the competition.
The AFLPA are now required meet with players before returning to negotiate on their behalf with the AFL although the matter has become controversial in recent weeks after a group of players sought advice from a workers’ rights firm due to a perceived lack of consultation from the union.
Last year, there were five Irish players playing in the semi-professional League – Cora Staunton, Aisling McCarthy, Yvonne Bonner, Sarah Rowe and Alish Considine. That number has swelled significantly, due in no small part to the success of the above players.
Considine’s Adelaide Crows won the Grand Final back in March defeating Carlton in front of a record crowd of 53,034, with the Clare native among the goal-scorers. Staunton finished second in the ‘best and fairest’ for 2019 for the GWS Giants, despite breaking her leg in March.
Other than Staunton and her Giants team mate, Donegal’s Bonner, all of the other Irish players were on tier four contracts, as will the majority of the new recruits for 2020.
Last season, tier four players received $13,400 (€8,232), At the top end – grade one – each club has at least two players whose contracts last year were worth $24,6000 (€15,113).