AFL player salary cap to rise

The AFL salary cap for players will have a larger increase next year, and in 2016, but clubs will not have to pay 100 per cent of their player payments, under the AFL’s new deal and equalisation measures.
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And while there will be a limit on what clubs can spend on football – and tax on clubs that exceed that amount – there will be no minimum spend outside of player payments.

Under the new arrangements, which the AFL’s new boss Gillon McLachlan will outline to the 18 clubs on Wednesday, the salary cap will be increased by about 4.5 per cent in 2015 and 2016 – higher than the 3 per cent rises that were guaranteed.

But clubs will not have to pay 100 per cent of the salary cap, with the minimum for total player payments and additional services agreements (capped marketing-related payments) remaining at 95 per cent. This is despite the near universal view that all clubs should have the capacity to pay 100 per cent of the player salary cap – a key goal of equalisation.

While there has been a strong push for salary cap equality – with Sydney’s contentious cost of living allowance (COLA) to be phased out and replaced by a rental allowance – the AFL will retain the veterans’ allowance for the next two years. This rule allows players with 10 years’ service at a club to be paid an extra $118,000 a year outside of the salary cap in 2014.

The veteran’s allowance enabled Geelong to play players an extra $1 million in 2012, when it had nine veterans, and $710,000 outside the cap in 2014, with six veterans.

The veteran payments, which have assisted older players in being retained at their club, were under threat as part of the equalisation, but there has been a strong pushback from the players’ association and player managers, with the upshot being that the allowance for 10-year players will be kept for the next two years. Some smaller clubs do not take advantage of the veterans’ allowance, for financial reasons.

The increased salary cap means that some clubs – such as St Kilda and the Bulldogs – will have to spend more heavily on players. In effect, this means that some of the equalisation funds those clubs receive will be allocated already.

The smaller clubs with poor stadium deals will not receive funds from the luxury tax until 2016, because it will be based on football spending in 2015.

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