AFLW players and their AFL counterparts could join forces for their next collective bargaining agreements, with their respective pay deals to expire at the end of the season.
The AFLW players have signed off a one-season deal with the AFL, that has almost doubled their average pay, to cover the upcoming campaign which starts in August, while the men's six-year deal finishes up at season's end.
It means for the first time since the AFLW's 2017 inception, the men and women could negotiate together.
"I've said before we're really open to that. It's a way of doing this, it's not the only way and I'm sure we'll have those conversations with the AFL," AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh told reporters.
"We've, to be fair, probably been more proactive on this point than the AFL have been.
"It's a way of bringing it together. It makes sense that we're heading into having a time where they're both up, to try and do them both in one hit.
"So that's going to be the fun for the next few months."
Marsh said the new one-year AFLW deal wasn't necessarily about lining up the next round of negotiations with the men's, but rather needing to quickly get an agreement in place.
The AFLPA and AFL are at odds over the AFLW season length long-term, with players eyeing an extended season.
Western Bulldogs captain Ellie Blackburn wouldn't be drawn on whether a joint negotiation with AFL players came next, instead delighting in the bumper pay deal she and her colleagues had achieved for the 2022 campaign.
Top-tier players will be paid $71,935, with chief executive Gillon McLachlan estimating up to 40 players could earn six figures this year, while the minimum AFLW wage will increase from $20,239 to $39,184.
"To be honest, all I know is that we've just worked really hard to get this CBA off the ground," Blackburn said.
"So I think we'll just celebrate that for the time being and when it comes to negotiating what's next, we'll work on that."
The improved AFLW deal this time around also reflects greater unity between the players and their union, after notable divisions in 2019.
"The AFLPA learned a lot from the last CBA and they've really reviewed their processes," North Melbourne skipper Emma Kearney said.
"The way that they've been able to communicate with players is excellent, and I can't commend them enough for the outcome that they've been able to give us today."
Australian Associated Press
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