The A-League clubs' proposed wage cuts of up to 30% on some players' salaries are far more generous than its rival leagues, says Perth Glory owner Tony Sage.
In a proposed new CBA deal which Sage says should have been agreed upon last night, the A-League clubs association is trying to get the PFA to agree to staggered wage cuts up to 30% across the entire league.
The staggered cuts, focusing on the league's highest paid players, are due to the A-League's wage structure with many players on minimum wage that can't be reduced.
The PFA have publicly rebuked the deal, saying the A-League's players have already sacrificed enough in finishing the season in hubs, with many only earning 17% more than JobKeeper payments.
But Sage insists that it could have been a lot worse, with other (richer) Australian sporting leagues slashing their wage bills by higher amounts.
"We don't know the number, we believe the AFL was 50%, the NRL was 50% and Super Rugby was 55%," he told Sportsline.
"We've been very generous in the A-League by only saying a 30% cut. So, hopefully the players and the FFA will come to an arrangement."
The AFL announced 50% pay cuts until May due to the COVID shutdown, with that figure potentially rising to 70% were the league's restart date again delayed.
However Sage's comments on the AFL and NRL pay cuts are misleading according to the PFA, who insist that modelling on the AFL and NRL's pay cuts actually leave the figures closer to 28%, if not lower.
Without going into detail on every facet of the AFL's own pay deal, while cuts of 50% were originally handed down, the league also gave out a $500,000 grant for players with financial hardship.
AFL players had also already been paid five months worth of salaries at the full rate before the cuts, that only went until 2021, meaning that the players only lost roughly a quarter with all things considered.
NBA and ANZ banks also gave the AFL a line of credit extending up to approximately $600 million, making any comparison between the two leagues inherently misleading, with much of the specifics behind the figures still to be confirmed.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said at the time that the AFL's player union was on board with the cuts, after a period of negotiations.
"The players always understood the gravity of the situation and have agreed to take significant pay cuts to ensure we can keep the industry going," he said in the AFL's joint statement with the AFLPA.
"The players were clear in their commitment to their clubs, to our sport, to ensuring they did what they could to keep the community safe while also agreeing to the necessary agility and flexibility to enable us to play the remaining 144 games and finals of the AFL premiership season."
For their part, FFA have copped criticism for remaining relatively silent throughout the new CBA negotiating process, despite the governing body's reluctance to play too large a role throughout the transition to an independent A-League.
In a statement, FFA said they were playing a supervisory role over the negotiations.
"Football Federation Australia (‘FFA’) continues to work closely with the A-League and W-League Clubs (the ‘Clubs’) as the unbundling process continues towards a new model for Australia’s Professional Leagues, in line with the in-principle agreement entered into in 2019 and endorsed by the New Leagues Working Group, the body mandated by the FFA Congress to create recommendations for the optimal future of Australia’s Professional Football Leagues.
"In deference to the in-principle agreement, FFA has gradually implemented practical changes to give the Clubs and its representative body, the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association (‘APFCA’), more operational control. For the Clubs and the APFCA, this has included assuming control over the negotiation with Professional Footballers Australia (‘PFA’) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (‘CBA’) for the Professional Leagues. This change has seen the APFCA assume the role of ‘employer representative’ and negotiator on behalf of the Clubs directly with PFA, who represent the player group on CBA matters. FFA has taken a more traditional ‘regulator’ role in the negotiations.
"This is a step process toward the unbundling of the Professional Leagues from FFA. In time, the Clubs will have operational control of the Professional Leagues that has been sought and debated for many years now. This will place Australia consistent with global football frameworks where the Professional Leagues operate as a separate entity under the umbrella of the National Federation.
"FFA are actively monitoring the negotiations between the APFCA and PFA and remains committed to supporting the parties in these negotiations. As FFA continues to monitor these negotiations, if the parties cannot reach agreement, FFA will enter the negotiations at the appropriate time.
"FFA retains the role of negotiating the CBA directly with PFA relating to Australia’s National Teams, the Westfield Matildas and Socceroos."