At one AFLW club, less than 10 per cent of players voted for the latest deal. Of the 14 AFLW clubs, 10 gave majority support for the CBA (including four unanimous and four in excess of 80 per cent), while four clubs had a majority opposed, sources familiar with the deal said.
The AFLPA stressed to the players on Sunday that “all members have provided us the authority to make decisions on their behalf. As such we could have entered into the CBA on players’ behalf without taking this to a vote”.
The aggrieved players are led by Carlton’s Darcy Vescio and Geelong’s Meg McDonald. Both were contacted for comment. It is unknown how many players other than that pair are in contact with lawyers.
“The AFLPA will now conduct a series of meetings with players to determine the next steps in this process,” the AFLPA said in a statement.
These meetings will be with the clubs opposed to the deal however players from other clubs can attend.
Once the AFLPA established what might make the players change their mind they will approach the AFL to try and sort out an agreeable CBA.
Lawyers advising the AFLW players that voted against the CBA called on the player’s union to better respect the concerns of their members in this round of negotiations.
Jacinta Lewin, senior associate at Maurice Blackburn, said on Sunday that the latest CBA rejection was a chance for the AFLPA to “engage in genuine and transparent consultation with all players”.
“The AFLPA needs to evaluate how they communicate and consult with players. There needs to be a genuine desire to understand their concerns,” Ms Lewin said in a statement.
“Many of the issues of concern about the CBA were raised weeks ago. The AFLPA needs to reflect on how they listen to the voices of their members.”
“Players had tried to voice their concerns on multiple occasions over the last few weeks. It is a sign that their views need to be heard and respected.”
Players opposed to the latest CBA offer wanted a 13-round home-and-away season, which would see all 14 teams play each other once. These players have expressed concern at how they are being represented by the union and the number of weeks they would be contracted for under the agreement.
The current offer was for the 2020 season to have eight home-and-away games and three finals games, with 2021 extending to nine and three and 2022 to 10 and three. The 2019 season had seven rounds with two weeks of finals despite an expanded competition.
Those opposed said they felt pressured to sign the current deal, knew few details about it and are aggrieved there is only one seat for a women’s footy representative on the AFLPA board. They’re also unhappy with how the vote was conducted.
The deadline was extended from Friday to Sunday after some voting links ended up in junk folders or were sent to old email addresses.
The longer season means players will be contracted for over 23 weeks in a year by 2022, up from 17-and-a-half weeks, as per the current offer.
Pay will be boosted by 21 per cent next season and then seven per cent in 2021 and 16 per cent in 2022, however this was already agreed in the last CBA.
West Coast, Richmond, Gold Coast and St Kilda join the competition in 2020, making it a 14 team league. The AFLW draft is scheduled for October 22 while pre-season usually begins in early November.
Anthony is a reporter at The Age.