The Australian Football League has some of the highest paid athletes in the country. 2018 proved to be the first year that saw 6 players in total in the sport that earned more than a million dollars for a single year.
The Top Players
Richmond’s Dustin Martin, Nathan Fyfe from Fremantle, Lance Franklin from Sydney, Tom Lynch (Gold Coast 2018), Jeremy Cameron from GWS, and Tom Boyd from Western Bulldogs are believed to be the six. Nic Naitanui from the West Coast is likely to have earned more than $900,000, and Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury, while not earning as much as previous seasons, would have been around that range as well.
According to official figures released by the AFL in its 2018 annual report, three of the six millionaires earned between $1.2-$1.3 million on 2018 accounts.
The seven-figure club in 2018 fell by nine in 2017 and is the same size as in 2016. Four millionaire wage earners were present in 2015. Last season’s average player wage was $362,471, a $10,000 increase over the previous year. Jeremy McGovern from the West Coast will join the millionaires in 2019, having signed the second-biggest deal of the competition behind Martin last year. These figures are comparable to other sports and industry payouts, such as those found in online casino NZ jackpots.
Total Club Payments
The 18 clubs paid a total of $240.4 million before deductions that included injury allowances, final incentives and payments from the list of veterans.
Dayne Beams (listed last year by Brisbane), Carlton’s Patrick Cripps and Marc Murphy, Geelong pair Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, Sydney’s Josh Kennedy and West Coast’s Josh Kennedy, and Jack Steven (St Kilda) were among last year’s top paid players.
Steven May (in 2018 on Gold Coast’s books), Bryce Gibbs and Rory Sloane (Adelaide), Adam Treloar (Collingwood), Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide), Trent Cotchin, Alex Rance and Jack Riewoldt (Richmond), Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs), Luke Parker (Sydney), Hawthorn’s Jarryd Roughead, Ben Brown (North Melbourne) and Melbourne’s Jake Lever and Jesse Hogan (now in Fremantle) also had substantial deals. Lynch moved to Richmond last October after eight seasons with Gold Coast. In 2019, he won’t be one of the millionaires.
The AFL Salary Cap
The Australian Football League has implemented a salary cap on its clubs since 1987, when Brisbane and West Coast were admitted as part of its equalization policy designed to neutralize the ability of the richest and most successful clubs, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon and Hawthorn, to dominate the competition on an on going basis.
The ceiling for 1987–1989 was set at A$ 1.25 million pursuant to the VFL agreement, with the salary floor set at 90 per cent of the ceiling or $1.125 million; the salary floor increased to 92.5 per cent of the ceiling in 2001 and to 95 per cent of the ceiling in 2013 due to higher revenues.
For the 2019 season with a salary floor of $12,122,000, the salary cap, officially known as Total Player Payments, is A$ 12,760,000. Since the competition was re-branded as the AFL in 1990, both the salary cap and the salary floor have increased substantially to help stem the dominance of new high-member interstate clubs such as Adelaide and the West Coast Eagles.