Happy days are here again, provided they ever left to begin with, as AFL players enjoy pay envelopes that would have seemed the stuff of dreams a few years ago.
Such is the largesse of the 18 clubs that make up the 2017 Toyota AFL Premiership competition that players are taking on roles as financial advisors to one another.
One star player, 2016 Brownlow Medal winner Patrick Dangerfield, has cautioned Josh Kelly of the Greater Western Sydney Giants to think twice before accepting a nine-year tenure from the North Melbourne Kangaroos, because even though the term offers job security, in nine years’ time, the reported $1 million per season offer the Roos have tabled might turn out to be the bargain of the decade.
Dangerfield points out that nine years in AFL age is akin to 54 years in the lifespan of a human, so in five years, the money Kelly is looking at now might be insignificant.
Salary caps will most likely go up, especially if an anxious broadcaster wants to secure video rights long term.
There is certainly precedent for Dangerfield’s cautionary words to Kelly.
Professional sports leagues around the world are seemingly an unstoppable growth juggernaut. In the U.S., a professional rugby league is in the works, and yes, they do play Rules footy there, along with cricket. If U.S. viewers can be persuaded that the hot trend is toward rugby, Rules, or even cricket, deep-pocketed tech billionaires will be swarming Sydney and Melbourne looking for established talent.
Players such as Dangerfield and Kelly could easily see $US 5 million ($AUD6.68 million) contracts being tossed around like confetti. It would seem, from observation, however, that U.S. teams seldom offer contracts beyond five years, and that only in extreme circumstances.
As for the AFL, the case of Alastair Lynch crossing from Fitzroy to Brisbane in the early 1990s on a 10-year deal lost value when a massive increase in player payments made Lynch’s salary deal seem paltry.