Clubs and leagues under the AFL Riverina banner have been urged to look after their long term future and adopt the AFL's strong recommendations to slash salary caps in half for 2020.
After a series of recent meetings involving the AFL and state and territory representatives, the game's governing body recommended a 50 per cent reduction in salary caps to help clubs and leagues emerge from the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
A further pro rota salary cap reduction will potentially be implemented, based on the number of matches re-fixtured. For example a league with an initial $90,000 cap, which currently exists for the Riverina, Farrer and Hume Leagues, would be automatically reduced to $45,000, but if only half the matches originally scheduled are played it would be reduced by another 50 per cent.
AFL Southern NSW regional manager Marc Geppert is confident players will understand the part they have to play in ensuring the survival and sustainability of their respective clubs.
"They're strong recommendations, we can't force leagues to adopt them but the idea of it with the financial climate at the moment is to help the leagues get through this period," he said.
"Speaking to the clubs recently they're planning for the future as well, which is great, because it's going to have an impact not just this season but for seasons to come."
Geppert said AFL Riverina strongly backed the 50 per cent salary cap reduction, with an option to scrap the cap completely also discussed.
"We were pretty strong in the opinion that if you went with no salary cap it would probably defeat the purpose of what we're trying to do, because clubs would just pay players anyway.
"To go from a $90,000 salary cap to zero, we just didn't think that was realistic.
"We're trying to get a better understanding at the moment on how clubs would be affected if there's a full season, half season or no season.
"It affects every club and league differently, they've all got different revenue streams."
"The best thing about the reductions is it's been rolled out nationally. Every league has agreed to work together to reduce costs and I reckon the salary cap reduction is a great one."
The AFL confirmed all Standard Player Declarations will need to be re-negotiated. If players don't agree, they recommended clubs remind them of the revenue shortfalls associated with reduced sponsorship, fundraising and membership revenues, as well as no gate takings.
They added if a player is not willing to re-negotiate and play for a reduced payment, the club can elect not to pick that player for matches to ensure they remain under the revised APP cap for the 2020 season.
Farrer League president David Oehm said the recommendations are a "victory for common sense" on face value, and is confident players will have enough perspective to accept the situation.
"I haven't spoken to any of the clubs yet, but it's a recommendation we have to look at because clubs can't pay out money when there's nothing coming in," he said.
"Without digging too deep into it I can see where the AFL is coming from, and I agree with it.
"I look at it pretty favourably. It (coronavirus) doesn't only affect sport, if affects the entire universe and how we operate. There has to be some give and take from football, too.
"I'd like to think all players would understand and be sympathetic about the situation, because no doubt a lot of the players are in that situation (in their individual work lives) themselves."