The bitter pay and conditions dispute that looked like threatening to scuttle the 2020 AFLW season entirely is over, after players almost unanimously voted in favour of a new collective bargaining agreement that sets the framework for the next three AFLW seasons, and will see the league expand to a 10-round regular season by 2022.

98% of players voted in-favour of the new deal, which will 8 rounds plus a 3-week finals series in place for the 2020 season. That far eclipses the previous 70% vote which sparked divisions within the playing ranks and calls for the league’s female players to break away from the AFLPA and form their own player’s union.

Under the terms of the new CBA, the AFLW will expand by one week each year, meaning season 2021 will feature 9 regular season rounds and the three-week finals, while 2022 will feature a 10-round home and away season.

Players will also receive a minimum of four-months notice for key season start dates and timings, pre-seasons will be extended out from nine weeks to ten-and-a-half by season 2022, and teams that qualify for the Grand Final will be extended an additional week’s pay.

Additionally, a full, independent review of the AFLW will be conducted, with the cost to be taken on by the AFL itself.

The hugely controversial conference system will also be retained, with league officials looking to re-balance the league by shifting the conference alignments, after last year’s season saw two of the top four winningest sides in the competition miss the finals due to being in the same conference.

It’s believed one conference will feature Carlton, Collingwood, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Melbourne, Fremantle, and West Coast, while the other will sport St Kilda, Geelong, North Melbourne, Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney, Brisbane, and Gold Coast.

The full 2020 season schedule is due to be released later this week, however the 2020 season will begin with a double header featuring Carlton vs Richmond and Collingwood vs Melbourne at Ikon Park in Carlton on Saturday, February 8th.

Footy’s on again, mates! Here we GO.

Image: Getty Images / Michael Wilson