AFLW 2022: All the latest news surrounding new season starting date and CBA negotiations

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says the next AFLW season is close to being sorted amid rising anxiety and stress among players, staff and coaches.

The next AFLW season will start during the AFL pre-finals bye as the league inches towards securing a new pay deal for its female players.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan and AFL Players’ Association boss Paul Marsh met on Monday as the league attempts to douse rising anxiety from clubs and players over the lingering uncertainty.

AFLW players and coaches have hit out at the league for leaving them in limbo only weeks before they could be due to start pre-season training.

But McLachlan was adamant on Friday that the next season was certain to start in August.

“The season will be starting in that last weekend of August. And I know that the clubs and female players, as we go to 18 teams this season, want to know the exact specifics,” McLachlan told 3AW.

“We’ve gone out to the clubs with indicative dates last week. We just got to get this deal done with the Players’ Association.

“I feel we’re close … but there are two sides to every discussion.

“We’re listening to Paul (Marsh) and hopefully he’s listening to us.

“But we’ll get there. We’ll get the deal done.”

CBA DELAY FURTHER CLOUDS AFLW’S MESSY START DATE DEBATE

By Simeon Thomas-Wilson, Liz Walsh, Lauren Wood

New Port Adelaide recruit Gemma Houghton says there is “anxiety” among the AFLW playing cohort with a start for the 2022 campaign and other key dates ahead of the season still not yet finalised.

The AFL is yet to announce the start date of season seven, with CBA negotiations a factor in the delays of the announcement.

The AFL is also yet to announce when the AFLW sign and trade period can start, when pre-season will start and when the AFLW draft will be held.

The AFL is working towards a late August start date for season seven but it’s widely acknowledged that the longer the CBA negotiation process goes on, the harder it will be for the season to start in August.

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Gemma Houghton is the newest signing for Port Adelaide. Picture: Kelly Barnes
Gemma Houghton is the newest signing for Port Adelaide. Picture: Kelly Barnes

But it’s understood the AFL Players’ Association will not compromise on the deal by rushing into an agreement at the expense of player conditions.

The entire AFLW playing group is being kept across the process through their club AFLPA representatives.

Houghton, who was announced as a marquee player for Port Adelaide — moving from Fremantle — for the Power’s first ever AFLW season, said the unknown was causing stress among players.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say frustration, I think it is probably more anxiety,” she said of the current situation.

“It can cause a bit of stress not knowing.

“But we are getting closer and closer to a result and hopefully that will be known soon.”

Houghton joins former Crows Erin Phillips, Angela Goley and Justine Mules — along with Brisbane player Maria Moloney — in committing for the Power as they come to the AFLW as an expansion club.

Houghton says the unknown was causing stress among players.
Houghton says the unknown was causing stress among players.

Port AFLW coach Lauren Arnell said while they had to build a team from scratch, they weren’t letting the uncertainty impact them.

“I think every club around the country is experiencing a wait period for those dates and we are no different,” she said.

“All we can do is plan and prepare as best we can and that is what we are doing at the moment.

“I think there has been some murmurings amongst players and people do want certainty.

“But we know that there are negotiations behind the scenes occurring, from our perspective we have a lot of things that we need to put our time and energy into and if it is out of our control that is something we won’t be putting time and energy into.”

AFLW season delay ‘absolutely mental’ as player erupts

Two-time AFL Women’s All-Australian Sabrina Frederick has lashed the current holding pattern for the competition as “absolutely mental” as players continue to wait to learn when their imminent pre-season training will begin.

The league — which has secured provisional approval from the AFL commission to start next season in August — is locked in ongoing collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the AFL Players’ Association, with the upcoming sign and trade period, draft and pre-season dates all hinging on its resolution.

Sabrina Frederick has spoken out about the current situation with AFLW. Picture: Michael Klein
Sabrina Frederick has spoken out about the current situation with AFLW. Picture: Michael Klein

Clubs remain in the dark on how many players they are permitted to sign and their total player payment allowance, which are both dependent on the terms of the CBA.

And as players wait with bated breath — many of whom are also juggling work and study commitments and are desperate for clarity on their immediate future — Frederick said she was determined to speak out.

“It’s absolutely mental that the AFLW pre-season is supposedly starting next month,” the Collingwood forward said on Monday.

“We have no current CBA, and no start date.

Frederick says the AFLW pre-season is supposedly starting next month and yet no word of when.
Frederick says the AFLW pre-season is supposedly starting next month and yet no word of when.

“This is a part-time competition so that means everyone involved, not just the players, have other things to factor in and consider.

“Not to mention (sign and trade) and a draft has to happen before then.”

Frederick, 25, is set to welcome a baby daughter in July with her wife Lili.

“Overall as a fan of sport, a fan of these incredible athletes we have in this competition and someone who wants the best for women in general, this is disappointing,” Frederick wrote.

“I believe in speaking up for what is right … always.”

Originally published as AFLW 2022: All the latest news surrounding new season starting date and CBA negotiations

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