2020 AFLW season still up in the air as ugly dispute rumbles on

Eighteen Irishwomen are currently on lists, as the plot thickens.

Carlton star Darcy Vescio is one of the faces of the group that are unhappy with the AFL's current offer.
Carlton star Darcy Vescio is one of the faces of the group that are unhappy with the AFL's current offer.
Image: AAP/PA Images

EIGHTEEN IRISH PLAYERS signed with AFLW clubs for the 2020 season remain in limbo with an ugly dispute Down Under rumbling on and getting more complicated.

On Friday AFLW agent and CrossCoders founder Jason Hill told The42 that the situation had got “real messy, real quick”, with a vote due over the weekend in attempts to settle the dispute which surrounds the number of games played each season and pay.

The AFL’s offer is 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, along with pay increases of 21%, 7% and 16% each year.

A collective bargaining agreement was voted on, and rejected once again by the players — the vote required a 75% yes vote to pass, but fell short at 70%.

Players, league officials, the AFL, the AFL Players’ Association [AFLPA] and lawyers are all involved, with no agreement reached as of yet for this coming season — the fourth edition — and strike action is a real possibility at this rate.

A disgruntled group of players sought legal help last week in response to the AFLPA’s handling of AFLW pay negotiations. It’s understood that the main issue, however, is that players want a longer season.

Some players are calling for 13 home-and-away games each — where every team plays each other (rather than a two-pool format, as is the case now) — and finals, but the AFL will not entertain this proposal because of a broadcast agreement.

The AFL say that their current offer is their best and final offer.

Now that the vote has failed, it’s believed that consultation has begun and renegotiation — should the AFL agree to come back to the table — could occur. 

aflw-collingwood-giants Sarah Rowe and Cora Staunton are both contracted Down Under. Source: AAP/PA Images

The league told the Herald Sun this week that it remained committed to the long-term success of the competition, but would not elaborate on whether it was willing to present another offer.

It’s understood that the union is currently speaking to players opposed to the deal, and are reportedly planning meetings with clubs with the most numbers opposing, but the AFLPA have declined to comment on how that is progressing to Australian outlets.

If a deal can’t be agreed, the players could take industrial action, strike and risk it all to get a longer season, more pay and greater equality across the board.

As of now, it looks like the 2020 season will still go ahead unless players threaten industrial action or withdraw their services.

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All planning at the moment is for the season to go ahead as anticipated with a start date in early February to be announced as soon as the deal is fully sorted.

A pre-season start date — which should be in the coming weeks — remains up in the air, with the AFLW Draft pencilled in for 22 October.

The AFLW will become a 14-team league with four new teams — West Coast Eagles, Richmond, Gold Coast and St Kilda — joining ahead of the 2020 season.

You can read a more detailed explainer from Down Under here >

The 18 Irishwomen currently on AFLW lists for 2020 are:

  • Sinéad Goldrick (Melbourne FC)
  • Niamh McEvoy (Melbourne FC)
  • Cora Staunton (GWS Giants)
  • Yvonne Bonner (GWS Giants)
  • Sarah Rowe (Collingwood)
  • Aishling Sheridan (Collingwood)
  • Aisling McCarthy (Western Bulldogs)
  • Katy Herron (Western Bulldogs)
  • Niamh Kelly (West Coast Eagles)
  • Grace Kelly (West Coast Eagles)
  • Kate Flood (Fremantle)
  • Áine Tighe (Fremantle)
  • Aileen Gilroy (North Melbourne)
  • Mairéad Seoighe (North Melbourne)
  • Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows)
  • Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions)
  • Joanne Doonan (Carlton Blues)
  • Clara Fitzpatrick (St Kilda)

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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