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SBD Global/September 12, 2017/Finance

W-League Players To Receive Improved Pay, Conditions With New Wage Deal

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W-League players get a significant pay raise after FFA and PFA agree to deal.
The Australian Football League Women's competition "might have grabbed most of the media attention" last season, but Australia's W-League players have "now been given a major incentive to stick with the world game" in the shape of "significantly" improved pay and conditions, according to Michael Lynch of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Football Federation Australia and Professional Footballers Australia on Monday announced what they described as a "landmark" collective bargaining agreement between the two organizations and the W-League clubs. The deal is "expected to more than double the average pay packet of W-League players" to A$15,500 ($12,436) for the upcoming season. The previous average was A$6,909. Under the new two-year agreement, all players -- other than those on scholarships -- are "guaranteed a minimum retainer" of at least A$10,000 ($8,023) for the coming season and A$12,200 ($9,788) for the '18-19 season, "with no prescribed cap on how much any individual player can be paid on a retainer." The extra cash will come from improved grants to the clubs that field W-League teams "as a result of the extra cash generated" by the sport's new A$346M ($277.6M) six-year broadcast deal. The new deal is "designed to provide for a much greater degree of financial certainty" (SMH, 9/11).

'START OF A NEW ERA': In Sydney, Ray Gatt wrote previously, many players in the W-League "only received reimbursement of expenses, leaving them severely out of pocket and forced to rely on family and friends" to help fund their aspiring careers. Financial considerations aside, "there are a number of concessions that have been agreed to," including:
  • contracting certainty.
  • larger playing rosters.
  • an increase in the salary cap per club from A$150,000 ('16-17) to A$300,000 ($240,700) this season and A$350,000 ($280,820) in '18-19.
  • enhanced medical standards.
  • key principles for the first ever formal maternity policy.
The agreement can "also be seen as a shot across the bows of the women’s AFL competition," which kicked off this year and is viewed, in some quarters, "as a threat" to women’s football in Australia. FFA CEO David Gallop hailed the agreement as "an important next step" for the W-League, although he admitted there is "still more that needs to be done to bridge the gap" to the professional men’s game in Australia. Gallop: "This is the start of a new era for professional female footballers in Australia. W-League players deserve this pay rise. They have been trailblazers for women's sport in Australia and are about to enter their 10th season" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/12). The AAP reported the season, which begins on Oct. 27, will "also see a bump in exposure." There is no free-to-air broadcaster but Fox Sports "will screen 24 regular season matches and the three-game final series." PFA CEO John Didulica said that the deal was "foundational." He said, "Hand in hand with the club owners and the FFA, it will build a platform to grow the players' collective hope of building a professional career as a footballer" (AAP, 9/10).
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