AFLW confirm August season start, new pay deal for players

AFLW players have had their pay almost doubled under a new one-season deal struck with the AFL.

Announced on Thursday, the deal covers the seventh season of the AFLW competition, which has been brought forward to start in late August.

It will feature 10 home-and-away rounds plus an expanded four-week finals series, culminating in the Grand Final on the last weekend of November.

Top-tier players will be paid $71,935, while the minimum AFLW wage will increase from $20,239 to $39,184.

The average increase across the four pay brackets is 94%.

Each of the 18 AFL clubs will be represented in the women's competition next season with the addition of Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney.

The expansion signing period for those clubs will begin on May 24, while all clubs will commence pre-season training on June 13.

The AFLW draft will be held on June 29.

The second 2022 AFLW season will start during the bye week before the AFL men's finals series in August, little more than four months since Adelaide were crowned premiers.

There had been increasing frustration among AFLW players and coaches about the length of time it was taking for a deal to be done, particularly once it became clear in recent weeks that the next season would be brought forward.

"We appreciate everyone's patience, especially the players and clubs over the last few weeks, and that patience has resulted in a great agreement for both the players and the broader industry," AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.

"The agreement represents a landmark improvement in pay for AFLW players and an historic level of investment in domestic women's sport that truly values the contribution of our players.

"(It) is a giant step forward in achieving our vision of ensuring AFLW players are the best paid female athletes in any local professional competition by 2030."

AFLW players are still eager to see the length of the season expanded beyond the current 10 rounds, with that desire set to be a major factor in the next pay deal.

The players, who are still on six-month part-time contracts, are also hopeful of achieving full professionalism within four years.

"This agreement is the first step toward our vision of AFLW players being full-time footballers by 2026," AFL Players Association chief executive Paul Marsh said.

"Our players love the game and are driven to succeed.

"This CBA acknowledges the important role the AFLW players have and instils great confidence in the future direction of the competition."