'Tough on everyone': AFL reaches pay cut agreement with players

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan and the AFL Players' Association have agreed to terms on a pay cut for players during the coronavirus shutdown. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

AFL players have agreed to a 50 per cent pay cut until the end of May and are prepared for games until December to ensure the season is completed.

The bitter stand-off between the AFL and its players has ended, with the two parties agreeing on Friday to a pay deal during the coronavirus shutdown.

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The players' pay cut will increase to 70 per cent if the season is delayed beyond May 31, but will stay at 50 per cent when games recommence.

The AFL is still hoping to have a 17-round season, with finals, this year following the season being postponed after just one round.

This will likely mean games are played well past the usual last Saturday in September grand final date.

Deciders were held as late as mid-October in the early days of the VFL, but a summer grand final would be unprecedented.

"The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating on the community and the football industry," AFL Player Association boss Paul Marsh said.

"The players have been rocked by what has transpired all over the world in recent weeks and want to play their role to ensure that our great game comes through this strong and united."

"The players have moved quickly to come to an agreement with the AFL and the outcome is a fair one."

The players came in for stinging criticism from AFL legends Leigh Matthews and Malcolm Blight for not accepting a bigger pay cut during discussions this week.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said he was happy to have the deal sorted and commended the players' actions.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan praises players

In a peace offering during the dispute, McLachlan offered to match the reduction in player salaries.

"I know it has been tough on everyone in football but it was important that we come together to get through this crisis," McLachlan said.

"We have a long way to go but the actions of the players helps footy find a way through.

"The players always understood the gravity of the situation and have agreed to take significant pay cuts to ensure we can keep the industry going.

"I know it is not easy but I want to thank Paul Marsh and Patrick Dangerfield for their leadership and the action the players have taken for the collective good of the football community.

"This issue has been incredibly complex and fast-moving and we have been able to achieve in a couple of days what would normally take months."

Another part of the agreement was for grants to the AFLPA, totalling more than $8 million, to be cancelled until the end of October.

That includes payments for injury and hardship, retirement accounts, player development and wellbeing, and operating grants.