Country football player payments under the microscope

AFL Victoria deputy general manager Steven Reaper is “very confident” his team will find a solution to one of the big issues facing football in Victoria.

Reaper is part of a 10-person working party that is casting the spotlight on escalating player payments across country and metropolitan leagues.

The party also consists of AFL Victoria country general manager Brett Connell, AFL Victoria metropolitan general manager Michael Daniher, north-east border region general manager John O’Donohue, Barwon region general manager Lee Hartman, Central Victoria region general manager Paul Hamilton, Eastern Football League chief executive Phil Murton, Essendon District Football League general manager Marc Turri and AFL Victoria Community Football Board members Nicholas Rolfe and Tony Mitchell.

“For the first time in December, all leagues were on the same page in regards to trying to minimise player payments. Nothing is going to work unless all leagues are buying into whatever we come up with,” Reaper said.

Reaper said the payment increase was not any worse in the Goldfields region than other parts of the state, but it was still an issue seen as serious by local leagues.

He said a perceived rise in money in the Central Highlands league compared with the Ballarat competition was not necessarily a problem, but believed better standards of football should command the bigger dollars.

“We are certainly of the view the best players getting paid to play country footy should more often than not get those amounts for playing higher standards of football,” he said.

Reaper said he did not share the same thoughts as Goldfields region general manager Rod Ward, who told The Courier he had a “strong degree of confidence” a player points system – used in a range of leagues across the state – would be implemented Victoria-wide by 2015.

“Not at this stage, not until that working party has done the work,” he said.

Reaper said the working party was yet to ascertain whether a player points system would have any impact on stemming rising player payments, but this would be a topic for the group to work through.