Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt with his fiancee Carly Ziegler and daughter Poppy
AFL players have hit back at claims they’re being greedy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The competition has been placed on hold until at least May 31 after clubs played the first round without a crowd.
The AFL players have offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut – but the league is pushing for players to accept 75 per cent due to dwindling revenues while play is suspended.
AFL legend Leigh Matthews said he’s lost ‘all respect’ for the players, saying their refusal to accept the league’s demands would hurt the game.
‘I’ve lost a lot of respect for the collective player group over this last couple of weeks,’ Matthews said on 3AW on Tuesday.
‘I think what’s happened in the last week has been embarrassingly disappointing for me.
‘Last week when the thought was they knocked back a 20 per cent pay cut, and that I thought was just off, and now this week when 80 per cent of the football world has lost their jobs… the 20 per cent that remains have taken big pay cuts, I think it’s time for individuals in the players’ association to break free, like the coaches have.
‘The coaches last week agreed to a 20 per cent pay cut, because last week that seemed a reasonable thing to do.
‘I think it’s a month to month thing, that’s the point… I’d be surprised if we play football in the next six months based on what’s happening in the community.’
AFL legend Leigh Matthews (pictured) said he’s lost ‘all respect’ toward the players as he calls for a further pay cut for the players as the coaches did
Jack Riewoldt hit back at comments that AFL players were being selfish (Pictured: celebrating kicking a goal during the round 1 AFL match on March 19, 2020)
Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt slammed Matthews’s comment as ‘irresponsible’ stating the players know of the financial stress placed on the game during its suspension.
‘If the game isn’t going, we understand that there is a massive role for the players to take here if the game doesn’t get up and going in this year,’ he told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
‘There’ll be plenty of other cuts. We may see lists cut, we may see players’ jobs lost. So we totally understand that.
‘So for an AFL great of the game to say that about the current playing list I think is really disappointing. And Leigh has a strong opinion, and a well-heard voice, so I thought that was maybe a bit irresponsible.’
He reiterated there is 10 weeks before a further decision would be made and if the game would go ahead during the coronavirus lockdown.
‘It’s hard. We aren’t going to please anyone,’ Riewoldt continued.
‘I think the decision the PA has taken which is look, we’ve got 10 weeks, this is when we’re looking at getting the game up and going, any negotiations further on that need to be done when we actually know where the game’s going to be going.’
Riewoldt said players are looking to play more games to reimburse all costs lost during the suspension.
‘It’s a direct correlation, $50 million to $100 million a round is lost when we don’t play footy,’ he said.
‘If we play five less rounds, say [that’s worth] $250 million, they’re the jobs that are being cut now.
‘It’s a pretty simple equation. It’s more games, more money, more people have jobs.’
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the league was facing its biggest financial crisis in its history, with clubs to be hit hard and thousands of staff to be affected
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the league was facing its biggest financial crisis in its history, with clubs to be hit hard and thousands of staff to be affected.
‘Our key priority is to do everything possible to keep players, staff and supporters healthy and well through this pandemic. Our industry provides livelihoods for thousands and thousands of people,’ he said.
‘But our key focus at the moment, like every organisation in the country, is to do everything that needs to be done to slow the spread of this virus. To keep people as healthy as possible.
‘To say that this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement.’