Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has called for team list cuts to fall in line with the amount of coaching staff casualties forced upon clubs.
The soft-cap for all clubs started at $9.7 million this year but could fall to about $6 million by next season.
Roughly 80 per cent of the soft cap is spent on staff salaries, with assistant coaches, recruiters to be hit hard by the new restrictions.
“Say you had to drop 20 per cent of your staff, for instance, and they’re potentially on 30 per cent less pay … I think the playing list needs to drop pretty much pro rata – and the salary cap would need to drop pro rata as well,” Buckley told Essendon’s Working Through It podcast.
“I think the ratios of people – staff or coaching to players – is something I would advocate stays relatively even, because I think the mix has been pretty good at the moment.
“If you had less staff with the same playing lists; I think it’s a detriment to both staff and players.”
AFL leaning towards US waiver system model
AFL players’ wages fall under the salary cap while rookies are paid under the soft-cap.
With players facing a reduction in numbers, the AFLPA has called for a gradual reduction in playing stocks rather than suddenly changing the face of all rosters across the competition.
Recent reports have suggested playing lists will eventually shrink to 35 – but that could be boosted to 38 or 40 in 2021. Current lists sit at 44.
Clubs like Hawthorn have called for a minimal cut to the playing ranks and hoped the number wouldn’t go below 40, which would also keep the state leagues viable.
The concern for football departments across the board is if there’s a small cut to player lists then that means more staff would then have to be shown the door.
Buckley believes the financial burden should be worn by everybody across the industry.
“You need to operate in a lean manner but you still need to provide the right environment for your people – players mainly but also for staff – to optimise their output … (and) contribution to your environment,” he said.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to keep as many of the people as we can and to invest back into our programs as much as we possibly can, given the economic constraints that are coming.”