AFL close to list size cuts as end of trades looms

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AFL club lists sizes will be cut to a minimum of 37 and a maximum of 44 players – including all rookies – next year.

The number of primary list players will be cut by two and the total rookie numbers by one from limits this year.

Sources close to the situation confirmed the AFL is close to agreement with the AFL Players Association on final list sizes with an announcement expected in the next week. Further meetings were due to be held with the AFL Players Association on Thursday.

The players union and the AFL had wanted to finalise the figures before the trade period ended.

The salary cap is also close to being finalised for next year with a cut of “about 10 per cent” to apply with sources saying the final number appears close to nine per cent with one per cent to retirement fund.

The AFL is likely to hand responsibility for applying the cut to player contracts to clubs and will not mandate the reduction as a flat across the board percentage.

This idea has angered clubs who believe it now opens up weeks and months of pain and renegotiation of contracts with players and player agents at a time when staffing at clubs has been slashed with the soft cap reduced clubs.

There is discussion about whether first and second year players will be quarantined from the cuts.

The maximum number of primary listed players on club lists will drop to between 36 and 38 down from 38 to 40 now.

The maximum number of primary-listed players a club can have is contingent on the number of rookies the club wishes to take. This year if a club had 38 primary-listed players they could have up to six rookies, if they had 40 on the primary list they could have up to 4 rookies for a maximum of 44 players. They could then have up to three Category B rookies on top of that.

Under the plan for next year that primary list figure has now been cut by two – to a maximum of 38 primary list players – and clubs can have up to a maximum of six rookies (four category A rookies and two category B rookies) for a total maximum of 44 players.

If a clubs has a full book of seven rookies (four category A and three Category B) they can have only 37 players on their primary list.

Category B rookies are the players coming to the AFL from outside the system – the overseas players or the soccer players or basketballers. This year clubs could have up to three Category B rookies next year it will be cut to two.

A club next year could have as few as 36 primary listed players but then they must also have at least one rookie – to get to the overall minimum figure of 37 players. Previously there was no requirement for a club to have any rookie listed players.

Player agents and some clubs were briefed on the likely changes on Wednesday.

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