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AFL, union near CBA that would cut cap, rosters
Published March 16, 2009
The AFL this week expects to announce a new four-year collective-bargaining agreement with its players union as the league works to resurface in 2010.
At press time, the AFL was close to a deal with the AFL Players Association that will substantially cut the salary cap from $2.2 million per team, a figure that also includes player health benefits. The new deal will also cut team rosters from the current 24-player limit. In addition, the hard salary cap will not increase unless the league reaches specific revenue benchmarks, according to acting AFL Commissioner Ed Policy, who refused to disclose specific salary cap and player roster levels.
While Policy said he expected to sign the deal this week, the revised CBA must be ratified by AFL players and the league’s ownership group. “The goal is to have final approval by the end of March,” Policy said. “This is an enormous and critical step for the league’s restructuring.”
While a new union deal is a major step, an agreement does not guarantee that the league will play in 2010.
When the AFL announced in December that it would cancel its 2009 season, league officials said they hoped to finalize a new plan by March 1. Now, the new CBA likely won’t be formally approved until April 1 and Policy would not say when the restructuring plan needed to be completed in order for play to resume next year.
“There is no magic date,” he said. “We still have a lot of heavy lifting to do before we relaunch. We are in a matter of weeks, not months, in making that decision and until we have a comprehensive plan in place, it won’t be certain. But a new deal with the union is a significant cornerstone of the plan.”
Policy and Columbus Destroyers owner Jim Renacci are leading the AFL’s reorganization into a single-entity structure in which services such as sponsorship sales and marketing could be centralized to save money. Policy confirmed that the league has issued requests for proposals to outsource the league’s marketing, sponsorship and merchandising efforts. However, no final decision has been made about what league services would be outsourced.
“We have submitted some RFPs to centralize overall business functions of the teams, but no decisions have been made,” Policy said. “We may do it bit by bit or in one fell swoop, but none of the RFPs are binding.”