Former AFL CEO Wayne Jackson has labelled the AFL Players’ Association “dangerous”, suggesting they have far too much power.
A pay dispute between the AFL and the players has dragged on for multiple days now as the game attempts to survive the current COVID-19 crisis which is sure to have drastic financial implications.
The league wants the players to take a 79 per cent pay cut, while the players have offered up 50 per cent.
Jackson, who helmed the AFL between 1996 and 2003, is worried the AFLPA pulls too much money out of the game and has too much sway.
“Andrew Demetriou was the president of the AFLPA (when I was in charge) and he was easy to talk to and I would like to think the AFL was easy to talk to,” Jackson told Sportsday SA.
“We were able to reach common ground on most things, but I think one of the most challenging, if not dangerous, issues AFL footy has at the present time is the players and the players union.
“I think they have far too much influence on the game and the cost of having that union is just horrific.
“I just read the AFL annual report and I think the AFL contributes $37 million a year to the AFL Players’ Association.
“I just think that the players have far too much influence at the present time and again I hope the current climate that we’re experiencing might bring some balance back into that.”
Jackson believes too many jobs at the AFLPA overlap with league headquarters.
“It worries me that there is investment and expenses in that association that is already being incurred by the AFL,” he said.
“In other words, there’s not a rationalisation of investments in people and jobs and I don’t know why the AFLPA has to have offices when there’s people in the AFL doing the same job.
“It might be welfare offices, it might be medicos, I read with interest that they’re looking to get some advice on the coronavirus issue. Why the AFLPA needs to be involved in that, I don’t know.”
Jackson believes this situation must act as a wake-up call for the AFL to take costs out of the game, adding that it is now out of control.
“I just hope very much that the football industry takes this opportunity of taking costs out of the industry,” he said.
“Have a really good look at what is essential and what is not and then when things get back to normal, we can get back to normal with a lower cost base than we currently have.
“I would hope that is one of the good things that may come out of the issue we currently have.
“I do think the industry has far too many costs or has incurred too many costs and too much overhead, and part of that is the AFL and I know Gillon (McLachlan) is conscious of that at the present time, and it might be the opportunity to get some costs out of the game when normality returns.
“The reality is the industry has done so well for such a long period of time and the revenue has been so strong that people naturally start adding expenses in.
“When you’ve got nine assistant coaches on a footy team it’s just ridiculous in my view and hopefully we can do something about that over time.”