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AFL sets new ‘soft cap’ on club spending

The new cap will be in place from next week, a matter of 10 days before the first return to play game on Thursday, June 11 between Collingwood and Richmond.

It is the first measure of how far the AFL has shrunk the game in order to sustain the competition – a figure that some richer clubs complain should be higher, believing that the league has set the bar low to accommodate the poorer clubs and thus forced the loss of jobs in football.

The clubs have been operating on a budget of $438,000 over the past two-and-a-half weeks, following the announcement of a return to play date, but the AFL has boosted that amount to $511,000 for the playing period, which is slated to end in late October.

Senior officials at some clubs believe the football spending cap will be similar to the monthly limit, over a full year, in 2021, with an amount close to $6.1 – 6.3 million though this is unlikely to be set until the AFL has a clear picture of revenue for next year.

The name and amount each staff member is paid has to be submitted and is audited.

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The AFL had initially set a drastic spending limit of $25,000 per week, or a little over $100,000 per month, when the clubs and competition were shutdown following round one and operated on a skeleton staff, with 75 to 80 per cent of staff stood down.

Clubs have no idea what they can spend on players – given the new reduced salary has not been set – and contracts remain frozen, in what is frustrating situation for some players and their agents. This critical number will be shaped by the amount the AFL receives from their broadcasters, sponsors and the revenue expected from membership.

The AFL based the increased staffing limit both to contain spending during the pandemic and also to minimise the number of coaches, conditioning staff, welfare people and medicos who have physical proximity to players, with others allowed to work remotely.

This staff limit of 30 will apply to the clubs that are within the hubs on the Gold Coast – Adelaide, Port Adelaide, West Coast and Fremantle, who will play their next four matches in south-east Queensland.

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