‘Four dirtiest words in AFL’: Cost of living storm set to explode

The AFL is reportedly considering restoring the controversial cost of living allowance (COLA) for Sydney and GWS amid financial pressure in the Harbour City.

COLA, which granted Sydney and GWS an extra 9.8 per cent in the their salary cap, was removed in 2014 following resistance from powerful Victorian clubs.

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Ten years on, Herald Sun journalist Sam Landsberger reports the NSW clubs are expected to be granted COLA again. However it’s believed the extra funding will go towards the teams’ soft cap, not salary cap.

“I think Sydney and Greater Western Sydney are both massive chances to have their COLA restored,” Landsberger explained on Fox Footy’s Midweek Tackle.

“These were the dirtiest four letters in the game 10 years ago.

“My understanding is the AFL almost ticked this off a couple of years ago. Out of nowhere, it was kiboshed.

“So the Swans and Giants aren’t counting their chickens just yet, but this is being given serious consideration at league headquarters. I think it’s got legs and is going to create a hell of a public debate between clubs like we had 10 years ago.

“Last time the clubs had 9.8 per cent extra in the salary cap. They’ve asked for more money in the salary cap and soft cap.

“My belief is the TPP (total player payments/salary cap) is long odds to get ticked off, but I think they’re a really good chance to get some relief in the soft cap.

“That would help them pay their assistant coaches more money. It’s a lot of work to not only recruit assistants to Sydney but also to retain them.”

Landsberger detailed the financial pressures that currently face assistants from the NSW clubs including Ben Matthews living alone for “five or six years,” Mark McVeigh residing 90 minutes away from the Swans base and Giants assistant Craig Jennings living in a van.

“This is overdue for mine,” fellow Herald Sun reporter Jay Clark added.

“The cost of living in Sydney is extraordinary. That’s why Jordan Dawson went from Sydney to Adelaide, the house he could buy was half the amount of money.

“However other clubs will absolutely hate it.”

Herald Sun journalist Lauren Wood meanwhile highlighted the AFL must tread carefully with COLA, suggesting it needs to be “really focused” on the soft cap.

“Assistant coaches and football department staff members were the ones who copped it during Covid,” she said on Midweek Tackle.

“There were incredible slashers and burns to those sort of budgets and salaries that have never truly recovered.

“If there was money floating around, I would love to see it go to people like them.”

Northern Clubs are also reportedly certain to retain their controversial talent academies.

Out West, the Western Australian clubs are reportedly set to request an extra home game in 2025 amid uproar around the equality of the fixture.

Landsberger revealed the WA clubs were left “furious” after Gather Round made them travel an extra game, suggesting a winter festival in Perth from 2025 as a solution.

“(Dockers CEO) Simon Garlick and (Eagles CEO) Don Pyke sat down with Andre Dillon before the derby and the AFL has recently completed its club visits,” he added.

“They want an extra game (in Perth). The AFL has a love affair with big events and festival type things.

“So I think the solution is to create this winter festival. On June 3 next year, Western Australia has Western Australia day.

“The idea is two Victorian clubs would fly over together and both West Coast and Fremantle would host those clubs. The next weekend it’s King’s Birthday weekend in Victoria and they play crossover games.

“So a bonus home game for them and sort of like a mini version of Gather Round stretched over two weekends. I think that’s a pretty good chance to happen.”

Originally published as Sydney cost of living storm brewing over AFL’s ‘four dirtiest words’

Read related topics:Sydney

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