'Strip it right back': Photo exposes AFL's glaring problem amid crisis

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Matthew Lloyd has called on AFL clubs to save money by ‘stripping back’ the number of coaches that are currently employed.

The AFL and its clubs are reeling following a brutal day of job cuts prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, which has halted the season after just one round and plunged the industry into financial chaos.

Roughly 80 per cent of the AFL's workforce has been stood down, with the competition postponed until at least May 31.

Staff at all 18 clubs were let go on Monday as Australia's richest sporting code grapples with the most challenging period in its history.

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Speaking on Footy Classified on Monday night, Lloyd said clubs could easily cut costs by doing away with unnecessary coaches.

"Not many positives can come from this, but I think the players have been over-coached for far too long," the Essendon champion said.

Matthew Llyod during an Essendon Bombers training session in 2015. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

"I went through some team lists today, there's 11 coaches and I'll list out some of these roles: game intelligence manager, senior performance analyst, data coordinator, IT systems administrator, performance analyst.”

Lloyd then showed vision of a packed Essendon coaching box during a game in 2019, saying it was the perfect example of over-coaching.

“Look how many laptops there are, there's about 15 laptops in that coaches box, so you can't tell me this game hasn't been over-coached,” he said.

“Let's hope that we can strip it right back. I know I'm talking about job losses here which is really sad, but I think we get back (to less coaches).”

Essendon's coaches box was packed to the rafters. Image: Fox Footy

Co-panellist Caroline Wilson agreed with Lloyd, revealing the cost of employing assistant coaches.

“Every year we go into the season and we talk about the $100 million in debt held by the clubs,” she said.

“Assistant coaches at the very least are earning $110,000 for when they come into a club, those days are gone.

"I don't want to kick people when they're down, but how many hundreds and thousands of dollars did North Melbourne pay out last year on sackings to contracted people, including the senior coach Brad Scott.”

Players take 50 per cent pay cut

Players have offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut for at least the next two months, while coaches last week agreed to a 20 per cent reduction in salary when games were being played in empty stadiums. That figure is sure to increase.

The sport's leaders spoke about the pain of what is being labelled football's 'Black Monday'.

“It's been a tough day and it was really about getting our players the best possible care we could, making sure we get them set up in what is going to be a challenging couple of months,” rookie Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks told Fox Footy.

“Our priority was to really get them with loved ones ... with borders closing down it's more of a challenge travelling around the country.”

AFL executives, including chief executive Gillon McLachlan, are taking a minimum 20 per cent pay cut.

All remaining staff at the AFL will have reduced hours during the shut-down period, while casual workers have been let go.

“This has been a very tough day for every member of our team. I am enormously proud of the team that works at the AFL, which makes these steps so difficult to undertake,” McLachlan said.

“Once the temporary suspension period is completed, our plan is to complete the remaining 144 games plus finals.

“We will continue to monitor the May 31 resumption date, taking the best advice from government and relevant medical authorities.”

with AAP