Hawthorn legend and premiership winning Collingwood and Brisbane coach Leigh Matthews has questioned the integrity of the AFL Players’ Association after failing to come to an agreement with the league over pay cuts.
The AFLPA and the AFL remain at a crossroads as the season has been suspended until May 31 amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the players offering to take a 50 per cent pay cut for April and May.
Matthews has labelled the current players “embarrassingly disappointing”, acknowledging the current 28 per cent revenue intake the players would normally earn.
“I’ve always been a player’s man,” Matthews said on Sportsday.
“When you are earning all the money for the game and you are only getting 28 percent, I thought that players have always been really generous. That’s been my attitude as a general principle.
“But over the last week or two when the field has changed completely…
“I say that simple principle, if you get 28 per cent of a billion, you know that’s about the salary cap. If you get 28 per cent of 100 million, that’s bugger all.
“In other words, if the revenue is going down, so too do the salaries.
“I just feel the collective respect for the players’ attitudes in this, I’ve certainly lost respect for it.
“I think what’s happened the last week is embarrassingly disappointing, for what you’d hope the players would be prepared to do under the circumstances that they now face.”
Ex-Melbourne captain Nathan Jones responded earnestly to the VFL/AFL great, supporting the position of the AFLPA.
“I wholeheartedly back the playing group and their understanding of the situation, particularly in the last 24 hours,” Jones said in response.
“We are under no illusions about where the game sits and what is going to be required from our end to play our part in keeping our game alive. Which is ultimately what we are all trying to do.
“I think the logical thing would be we would have to take a significant pay cut for the survival of the game.
“I don’t think there is any doubt in that. As far as what that percentage is right now, I honestly couldn’t tell you. I don’t have enough information or understand what’s going on or what the discussions are behind closed doors.
“Personally, I’ve definitely got my head around the fact that that’s coming. If you look at the bigger picture, it’s about keeping out game alive. If we aren’t willing to sacrifice in some sort of way, its difficult to face. But Potentially the AFL may be no longer.
“It’s disappointing that that’s the perspective that you take but hopefully in the end when it all comes to light we can end up on the same page.”