A one-year bridging AFLW Collective Bargaining Agreement has been struck between the AFL and AFLPA ahead of the competition's new season in August.
Season seven of the AFLW will now commence in the last weekend in August, and consist of ten home-and-away rounds and a four-week finals series, with the Grand Final to be held on the last weekend of November.
The CBA deal will result in a substantial pay rise of an average of 94 per cent across all four payment tiers, with players having been particularly keen to have their unpaid hours (maintaining fitness, recovery etc) recognised in the new deal.
The top tier will be paid $71,935, while the minimum AFLW wage will increase from $20,239 to around $39,184.
With the CBA signed, the AFL and AFLPA confirmed the new season will start in the AFL pre-finals bye in the last weekend in August, four and a half months after Adelaide was crowned premier of the 2022 (part A) season.
The long-awaited dates around the Sign and Trade Period and the NAB AFLW Draft have now also been finalised.
The Expansion Signing period will commence on May 24, with the Sign and Trade period to commence on May 31.
The NAB AFLW Draft will be held on June 29, with pre-season training to commence for all clubs on June 13.
The expired CBA saw players contracted for 15 hours a week during pre-season and 10 (excluding matches) during the season itself, but players found themselves doing a lot more individual work outside of those hours in order to maintain a high standard of performance.
Just two players per club occupy each of tier one and tier two, with expansion clubs capitalising heavily on that imbalance when attracting tier three talent from other teams.
Despite four new teams – Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney – joining the competition, the new season will remain at 10 rounds, however an extra week of finals will be added and a top eight introduced.
The next CBA is expected to revolve around the season length, with the AFLPA aiming to have a full-time, 18-round competition by 2026.
The AFL head of women's football Nicole Livingstone has maintained the AFL's aspirational goal is to have "year-round" athletes by 2030, rather than full-time or the current six-month, part-time contracts.
Key dates for AFLW season 7
- AFLW Expansion Signing Period 24 May 2022
- Sign and Trade Period 31 May 2022
- NAB AFLW Draft 29 June 2022
- Pre-season commences 13 June 2022
- Season Commences, 25-27 August 2022*
- Finals commences, 4-6 November 2022*
- NAB AFLW Grand Final, Weekend of 25-27 November 2022*
* Fixtured dates and game times TBC