When the NRL and its players’ association finally get their deal done there will be plenty of sports fans who hope they never again have to hear about collective bargaining agreements [CBA].
The protracted – and at times acrimonious – dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association over their Memorandum of Understanding was enough to make any fan long for the good old days when ‘love of the game’ was the primary driving force.
And let’s not forget that last December, Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield was talking about the possibility of an AFL player strike if the new CBA wasn’t resolved before the current season.
In the end, it wasn’t. The AFL CBA was eventually put to bed in late June.
It was recently released, runs to 124 pages and a lot of it is heavy going.
But it’s not all about wages and benefits, occupational health and safety and grievance procedures, as we found out.
Where those tribunal fines actually go
Players can be fined for all sorts of indiscretions, ranging from wrestling, tripping, staging or being involved in a melee.
But the money doesn’t go straight to the AFL, instead being committed to a concussion research fund.
The fund gets $250,000 each year, with the AFL making up any shortfall if required.
A sign of the times
The AFL CBA recommends that players develop two different signatures, one for fan autographs and the other for official signings, “to protect the equity in their signature and to manage over-supply”.
Here’s what the different signatures might look like:
There are detailed guidelines for when each should be used.
Players can sign up to 300 items for corporate purposes and 500 charity items each year.
If a player signs a piece of AFL-licensed memorabilia, he gets a minimum of $20 per item if he’s the only one signing, $10 if between four and 22 players sign the item, and $5 if it’s more than 22.
It’s such a major part of the AFL industry that each club has an Autograph Manager to oversee the process.
Player tracking is ramping up
Expect to see more data during TV coverage of AFL games showing how far the top players have run, their top speeds, and their average speeds.
That’s because the players have signed over the use of selected GPS data to enhance the broadcast coverage.
NFL broadcasters in America use their player tracking data well, including a table of the maximum speeds reached by players scoring touchdowns each week.
Promotion is part of the job
Players are required to be available for one half-day per fortnight for promotional and development appearances, with 15 of those scheduled by the club and the other six by the AFL.
Three media interviews for an AFL broadcaster count as one player appearance.
Five fast facts
Some of the other noteworthy things we found in the CBA are:
• Contingencies for an AFL club losing its licence
• The AFLPA commits $24 million to its career-ending injury and lifetime health care program over the course of the agreement
• Players are no longer required to contribute payment to pre-season camps
• 12 business class seats are provided for WA-based teams for each trip to the east coast
• The AFLW isn’t included
And one more thing …
Free agency is still changing – players no longer need to be restricted free agents before becoming unrestricted.
There will be at least one of these additional free agency provisions adopted by October:
• free agency for life;
• free agency portability;
• restricted free agency at four years for any players under median salary.
Let’s wait and see which they choose before trying to figure out what it means!