AFL Players’ Association president Patrick Dangerfield is disappointed by how the AFLW pay dispute has played out but doesn’t begrudge players for wanting to get the best possible deal.
The 2020 women’s season remains in the balance with a proposed collective bargaining agreement failing to pass a player vote earlier this week.
Only 70 per cent of players voted in favour of the CBA, which was to cover the next three AFLW seasons including season length and player conditions.
The AFLPA had sought 75 per cent of players’ approval to pass the deal.
Talks between the disgruntled players and the AFLPA have been ongoing ahead of further negotiations with the AFL.
Geelong star Dangerfield, who was prominent in protracted negotiations that led to male players securing a $1.84 billion deal in 2017, said it had been hurtful to see questions raised about the AFLPA’s integrity in the women’s pay talks.
He was also disappointed that the dispute had played out in public, including emails from the AFLPA to players being leaked.
“It’s been tough to watch … these are people that work for all our players,” Dangerfield said on AFL Trade Radio.
“I understand we’re in a building phase of the AFLW and I certainly don’t begrudge those 30 per cent of players that are looking for the best possible deal.
“But if we are looking for an outcome, the best possible way to do this as a playing group and as a PA is to do it together.
“I’ve never seen a playing group get a result by being divided. So we need to stick together … that’s the only way that we’re going to move forward.”
It emerged last week that a group of players – concerned at a perceived lack of consultation by the AFLPA – had engaged workers’ rights firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.
The proposed length of the season – and the number of weeks per year players are contracted for – is another sticking point in negotiations.
This year’s seven-round conference system was controversial as it meant certain teams never faced each other during the regular season.
In 2020, West Coast, Richmond, Gold Coast and St Kilda will join the competition, taking it to 14 teams.
With no confirmed CBA, a fixed date for the beginning of the AFLW pre-season cannot be established.