The Aboriginal artists who designed the Western Bulldogs indigenous jumper say they have been exploited by the AFL and have refused to sign a licensing contract with the league saying it would remove their creative rights.
The Ballarat-based Pitcha Makin' Fellas remain disillusioned their work has been undervalued by the AFL, which under its general jumper agreement has refused to financially compensate the group.
Peter Widmer, the Ballarat artist who assists the six-man collective, said he planned to present the Bulldogs on Thursday with a revised contract, which he believed would be signed before the Bulldogs wore the guernseys onto the MCG on Sunday, taking on Collingwood, in the Sir Doug Nicholls indigenous round.
Stressing the group had no issue with the Bulldogs, Widmer told Fairfax Media: "The contract they presented flies on the face of the AFL's Reconciliation Action Plan. The agreement they sent us is an AFL document and was not an agreement at all.
"It undervalues the boys' great work, their copyrights, their moral rights and their creative rights. We've told the Doggies we're not happy with the contract — it came through the Doggies but it's from the AFL — and we're in the process of drawing up a contract we're happy with. We believe the AFL needs to alter the contract for the future to protect people's future rights."
Widmer said the artists were not demanding a large sum of money but believed they deserved a small percentage from the jumpers' sales along with contractual recognition.
While the AFL stressed the issue rested with the Bulldogs, that club's chief executive David Stevenson said the jumper licences were owned and controlled by the AFL.
"That's between the AFL and the artists," he said. "The Pitcha Makin' Fellas is a great group of guys and they have told a great story on our jumper."
The artists connected with the club through Brett Goodes, who has taken charge of the club's operation in Ballarat where the Bulldogs plan to play up to three home games a season at an upgraded Eureka Stadium.
The AFL on Wednesday night described the contract in dispute as a "template agreement" and said it would welcome revised contract talks with indigenous artists, conceding the Pitcha Makin' Fellas probably deserved a more specific agreement and potentially financial compensation.
Having received rave reviews at the most recent White Night in Melbourne in February, and performing later this year at the Portugal White Night, the Pitcha Makin' Fellas are made up of Ted Laxton, Myles Walsh, Adrian Rigney, Peter-Shane Rotumah, Thomas Marks and Joe Lee.
Their jumper design includes an historic indigenous figure in the centre known as the "Great Black Pointer" with the artwork used currently being exhibited at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum. "These designs tell stories that have a deeper meaning," said Widmer.
The jumpers are currently being offered for sale on the club's website at a cost of $119.99.
All 18 clubs will wear unique indigenous jumpers for the Sir Doug Nicholls round with each having various agreements with their designers, some involving small financial settlements.
Gavin Wanganeen designed Essendon's latest Dreamtime guernsey, while Adam Goodes' mother Lisa designed the Swans' jumper and Eddie Betts' aunt, Susie Betts, the Adelaide jumper.
Proceeds from the sales of Richmond's jumper, designed by 17-year-old Patricia McKean, will go to the club's Korin Gamadji Institute.