THE AFL has settled on a six-round NAB League season after clubs were yesterday given further updates on the season.
The abbreviated male and female under-18 season will run from August to September, with the expectation a national championships tournament will take place in some form at the end of the AFL season.
The NAB League Girls season has already featured three rounds, so three more will be played to finish that campaign.
But in a conference call yesterday, AFL legal counsel Andrew Dillon told club football bosses that clarity on second-tier competitions, club academies, soft caps, salary caps and list sizes was still up to a month away in what is an enormous piece of work.
There is, however, increasing optimism that the salary cap - which currently sits at $14.5 million - and list sizes will not be as savagely affected as previously thought.
Misguided or not, some clubs say the longer they go without a concrete framework to work under, the more hopeful they become.
But a range of factors have also combined to create an air of positivity across the industry. The return of games with crowds to follow, a new broadcast deal, clubs re-signing major sponsors, JobKeeper, the AFL’s line of credit and its $60 million sale of a prime piece of real estate have been cause for encouragement.
The league has just started talks with the AFL Players’ Association over the salary cap and list sizes while also starting to prioritise what second-tier competitions will look like in 2021.
The freeze on player contracts, as revealed by sen.com.au in March, remains in place, with clubs told they will get an update in the coming weeks.
Clubs are currently working with a football department soft cap of $511,000 per month, minus player payments, which equates to an annual cap of just over $6 million a year, down from $9.7 million pre-COVID-19.
With staff in limbo across the competition, some clubs are starting to make decisions now given the difficulty associated with waiting for clarity.