AFL Boss Defends Low Pay For Women Because The New League Is A “Start-Up”

So far, it appears the AFL has women’s footy down pat – it’s just having trouble with the “league” part. 

ICYMI – and, if viewing figures are to be trusted, not many of you did – Saturday’s All-Stars clash between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne kicked ratings expectations out of the park.  

At peak viewership, over a million Aussies tuned in to watch the Dogs overpower the Dees, and the AFL’s chief Gillon McLachlan even said “these are massive TV numbers, and beyond our expectations.” 

Still, that cracker of a match came after revelations players in next year’s inaugural comp will only receive a tiny fraction of the wages their male counterparts are offered. 

In response to the gap between public interest and the meagre wages competitors can expect, McLachlan has today expanded on why exactly that inequity will exist – despite the strong indication of a continual audience. 

“We’ve seen the potential. It will get challenged further when we go to eight teams and set up a national league,” McLachlan told ABC Radio National this morning. Those challenges include locking down broadcast deals, sponsorships, and the innumerable commercial frameworks the men’s comp has refined over decades.

“We don’t have any commerciality around the league… we’ve got to start up, a complete start-up, so we’re investing millions of dollars next year in establishing a league.”
It’s thought league matches will take place at smaller grounds, limiting the bonkers ticket sales the men’s comp currently boasts. A shorter season will also limit exactly how many ads can be crammed in, on, and around the women’s league.
That’s why McLachlan didn’t outline any framework for bringing each competition’s pay levels into line. 
Elsewhere, manager of game and development Simon Lethlean did tell Fairfax “we haven’t settled on the salaries yet and we’ve had discussions about what they should be.”
“The thing for us is that we want this to be a fully professional league, next year it’s part time and eight matches but our job is to make this professional for the women as fast we can.”
Read: outside of the obvious obligations the AFL has in ensuring pay equality for its employees, it’s up to Australia to get the hell around the new league. The weekend proved how good the comp can be, and it’s up to you to keep up the ruckus when it kicks off next year.
Source: ABC / The Age.
Photo: Michael Dodge / Getty.