The AFL’s best players don’t get paid enough.
That’s according to former Collingwood captain, Scott Pendlebury, who has gone into bat for some of the game’s biggest names, who “cannot live normal lives in Melbourne”.
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“I still think the players and coaching staff in our game are heavily underpaid,” Pendlebury told Ball Magnets.
“Everyone will go, ‘You get paid so much as players’, (but) Nick Daicos, Dusty Martin — like they cannot live normal lives in Melbourne. They can’t go anywhere.
“They’re like, ‘Well, you’re getting paid 250k’.
“I feel like if you’re a good player in the AFL for a long period of time, you’ve got to reward these guys because we don’t want rugby, cricket, all these sports to overtake how much they’re paying their best players because then we’ll lose kids to that sport.
“That’s what I think. I’ll get shot down; ‘Players are greedy bla bla’.”
Daicos has reached a level of fame as a young player not seen since Bailey Smith, and might have even surpassed the Western Bulldogs midfielder after just 33 games.
The 20-year-old is the favourite to win the Brownlow Medal in just his second year in the league after a string of irresistible performances to start the year.
It’s made him one of the most underpaid players in the history of the game, given he is performing to the level of a $1m player, but, as a player on his first contract, he is restricted from earning over around $250,000, including bonuses.
But with such fame comes a grossly disproportionate level of attention of lack of privacy, for which, Pendlebury believes, he and the rest of the competition’s elite players deserve to be remunerated.
“Even at dinner last night, every second person (was coming up to Daicos),” Ball Magnets founder and Collingwood teammate Tom Mitchell added.
Pendlebury is also perplexed at the percentage of the AFL’s revenue the players get, under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Speaking to Aussie NBA star Josh Giddey, who joined him on the podcast episode, Pendlebury explained the discrepancy.
“In the NBA, you guys have 51 per cent of revenue of what you bring in. We’re 28 per cent of revenue,” Pendlebury said.
“I think the executive team in the AFL are the highest paid people in the game, which is fine, but there’s no other league in the world where the exec team is paid more than the players.”
The AFL CEO’s salary used to be public knowledge, but since outgoing boss Gillon McLachlan’s 2016 salary of $1.74m was released, it has gone behind closed doors.
Based on the AFL’s Total Player Payment (TPP) documents, the average AFL player’s wage is a tick over $400,000.
Pendlebury also thinks the NBA’s contract modelling makes more sense than that of the AFL.
“Guys (in the AFL) can sign like 10-year deals, which I think is ridiculous,” the AFL statesman said.
“To get a good player, it’s like, ‘We gotta offer him like nine years’. It’s like this is going to kill your (salary) cap.
“In AFL, the guy ranked 30th in the league can be making the most money, way more than everyone else, because you traded for him.
“The way (the NBA’s) contracts are structured, it’s reward based. (There are) certain levels you can get to if you’ve made (All-NBA) first team, second team, sort of stuff.
“I think all the first-rounders should sign four-year deals because otherwise, two years in, they’re like, ‘I just want to go home’.”
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