The AFL Women’s competition might have grabbed most of the media attention last season – particularly for its aggressive raids on players from other sports – but ‘s female soccer players have now been given a major incentive to stick with the world game in the shape of “significantly” improved pay and conditions.
The FFA and the players’ union, Professional Footballers , on Monday announced what they described as a “landmark” collective bargaining agreement between the two organisations and the W-League clubs, a deal that is expected to more than double the average pay packet of W-League players to $15,500 for the upcoming season. The previous average was $6909.
Under the new two-year agreement, all players – other than those on scholarships – are guaranteed a minimum retainer of at least $10,000 for the coming season and $12,200 for the 2018/19 season, with no prescribed cap on how much any individual player can be paid on a retainer.
The extra cash will come from improved grants to the clubs who field W-League teams as a result of the extra cash generated by the sport’s new $346 million six-year broadcast deal.
In the past, many players were designated as amateurs, and were only paid expenses.
The new deal is designed to provide for a much greater degree of financial certainty.
In a joint statement, the three parties FFA, clubs and PFA, also say that an agreed commercial framework should lead to larger roster sizes, a significantly increased salary cap and programs to underpin the growth of the women’s game.
It should also, they say, bring enhanced minimum medical standards and enshrine the first formal maternity policy for W-League players.
At the top end of the player scale the cream of the crop are expected to earn at least $130,000 a year from their deals with W-League teams, professional clubs overseas and appearances for the Matildas.
FFA CEO David Gallop said that while there was still a huge gap between pay scales for women and men, this deal was an important step in narrowing the gap.
“This is the start of a new era for professional female footballers in ,” Gallop said.
“W-League players deserve this pay rise. They have been trail blazers for women’s sport in and are about to enter their 10th season.
“We all share a determination to achieve gender equality in our sport and make it the most attractive option for female n athletes.”
PFA chief executive John Didulica said: “Having worked with the W-League players through this process, it has reinforced our view that these players are central to the future and to the fabric of n football.
“This deal is foundational. Hand in hand with the club owners and the FFA, it will build a platform to grow the players’ collective hope of building a professional career as a footballer and give the players a clear voice in what that future looks like.”
PFA player relations executive and former Matildas captain Kate Gill said: “Football has the capacity and the aspiration to ensure that every talented young female athlete in dreams of becoming a footballer. The entire sport has a role to play in bringing this dream to life.”
FFA’s head of women’s football, Emma Highwood, made the case that for women looking for a career on the global stage there were few better opportunities than soccer.
“Football offers elite female athletes in an opportunity to a professional career on the global stage that few other sports can match,” she said.
“Over the next two years, FFA and the clubs are projected to spend a combined total of around $5.9 million on payments to female players in the W-League. When payments to Matildas representatives are added, this figure rises to approximately $7.9 million.”