The AFLW season is set to be extended by one week in 2020, followed by an additional week in 2021-2022, if AFLW player delegates agree to a CBA proposed to them last week.
The proposal also offers a 21% pay rise in 2020, with further spikes of 10% to 11% in 2021 and beyond.
This would increase the AFLW season from its current nine weeks (including two rounds of finals) to 11 in 2020 and 12 in 2021-2022, with each upcoming year including three rounds of finals. There are also plans to gradually increase the length of AFLW pre-seasons.
The new pay structure would see the (currently semi-professional) league’s highest-paid players receive around $30,000 per year. This ‘tier-one’ salary can only be applied to two candidates from each of the 14 clubs, while “the lowest tier is tied to the men’s minimum wage on a pro-rata basis”, as reported by Sarah Black for womens.afl.
The 2019 season saw the introduction and likely continuation of the dual conference structure, in which the league’s 10 teams were divided into two groups of five. The top two teams in each conference after seven rounds then entered the two-week finals series.
With the competition increasing to 14 teams from next year and possibly up to 18 from 2022 onwards, some players and fans would prefer a longer home and away season, ensuring all clubs play each other prior to finals. However, this is deemed unlikely to occur anytime soon.
The proposed new agreement was negotiated in recent months and depends on signatures from the AFLW playing group. This may occur as soon as this week, allowing pre-season strategies to be finalised.
The AFLW CBA is scheduled to conclude on October 31st 2022, the same date as the current AFL CBA and television broadcast deal, which includes coverage of all AFLW games.