AFL Players' Association boss Paul Marsh says an expanded season in 2021 is an idea that has merit. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

AFL players open to extended 2021 season

2020-08-24 15:34:33

AFL footballers are open to playing more home-and-away games in 2021 if it means receiving their full pay, Players Association chief executive Paul Marsh says.

The AFL was forced to cut this season to 18 rounds – down from 23 – due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been suggestions more home-and-away matches could be scheduled in years to come as a way for the AFL to recover financially.

Players have taken a 50 per cent wage cut since this year after the competition was shutdown for two months.

Marsh said nothing “should be off the table” as the AFL faces the biggest financial crisis in its history.

“I don’t think anything’s off the table, from our perspective,” Marsh told SEN on Monday when asked about a 26-game season in 2021.

“Players have taken a massive hit this year. They’ve done everything the industry has asked of them to deliver this season. 

“We’ll sit down pretty shortly with the AFL to work through what next year looks like.

“We’ve already told the AFL that we want to look at everything we can to maximise the season, not only for the players, but for the clubs, the industry and fans.

“Whether it’s 26 (rounds) and whether it’s 100 (per cent pay), that’s all detail to work through.”

On Monday, the AFL announced details of its planned restructure which will see close to 20 per cent of roles disappear from the industry.

The league had previously stood down about 80 per cent of its workforce when the competition went into hiatus in March.