AFLW players in the dark about pre-season start as August launch looms

AFLW players still don’t have clarity on when they will begin pre-season training, despite the AFL confirming an August start date to next season.

The start of season and pre-season cannot be locked in until the AFL and the AFL Players Association (AFLPA), who are currently in negotiations, sign off on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Collingwood’s Sarah Rowe, who is from Ireland and is back home in the off-season, appealed to the league on Tuesday morning to provide some certainty.

“Please @aflwomens give us the pre season start dates so we can plan our lives,” Rowe wrote on Twitter.

Rowe’s tweet was replied to and shared by several other players, including Adelaide star Ebony Marinoff and Melbourne forward Tayla Harris.

It came hours after the AFL confirmed chief executive Gillon McLachlan and fellow heavy-hitters Travis Auld, Walter Lee and Andrew Dillon departed for the US for discussions on Monday night regarding the AFL’s broadcast deal.

Reports have suggested the league is close to signing off on the next AFLW CBA, which is expected to deliver significant league-wide pay rises.

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The AFLPA stressed the importance of giving players clarity as soon as possible.

“With the AFL’s decision to bring AFLW season seven to an August start date, certainty for players ahead of this coming season is critical,” an AFLPA spokesperson said.

“A crucial part of this is ensuring players have enough notice to appropriately plan their lives.

“The number-one priority for the AFLPA and players is negotiating a CBA and a sign and trade period so players can make these important life decisions as soon as possible with clarity.

“We are currently working towards agreement with the AFL on both of these issues.”

A new CBA will give AFLW clubs clarity on their immediate futures.(AFL Photos via Getty Images: Daniel Carson)

The existing CBA, which covered 2019 through 2022, expires on October 31, with the AFL and AFLPA in negotiations for the next agreement.

Certainty of timing is particularly crucial for women’s players given the current semi-professional nature of the league, which means many athletes juggle their playing career with an external profession or study.

The four incoming expansion clubs in Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney cannot fully build their lists until the sign and trade period dates are locked in.

The AFLPA has previously flagged it wants players on fully professional 12-month contracts by 2026.

ABC/AAP

Reference-www.abc.net.au

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