A record 19 AFL players earned more than $1 million last year — up from 12 players in 2022 — according to the 2023 total player payments summary released by the AFL on Monday.
The rise comes off the back of the newly negotiated five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which was set last September.
Eight AFL players earned more than $1.2m last year, compared to three in the preceding season.
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According to reports and the AFL rumour mill, West Coast’s Jeremy McGovern, Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe and Richmond’s Dustin Martin are thought to be AFL’s biggest earners last year.
Fyfe’s six-year deal came to an end in 2023 and in re-signing for another two years, it seems that the dual Brownlow medallist may have taken a pay cut to reflect his restricted game time with injuries.
McGovern also extended for a further two years last year after his five-year deal ceased.
The four-time All-Australian defender is also thought to have taken a pay cut to aid his struggling club as he comes to the end of his football career.
Geelong’s Jeremy Cameron, Collingwood’s Darcy Moore, Richmond’s Tom Lynch, the Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli and West Coast’s Tim Kelly could round out the top eight AFL players in 2023.
Carlton’s Patrick Cripps, the Western Bulldogs’ Aaron Naughton, Western Sydney’s Josh Kelly, and Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca are also in the mix, but nothing can be confirmed as the AFL Players Association does not make players’ wages public.
The $2.2 billion CBA for the 2023-2027 seasons saw AFL players receive a 10 per cent pay rise implemented immediately.
AFLW players also received a 29 per cent pay rise.
In the first year of the new CBA, 63 AFL players earned at least $800,000.
With a 37 per cent increase across the life of the CBA, the number of footballers with millionaire status is expected to pass 50 before the deal expires in 2027.
Last year, every player on a primary list banked more than $100,000 — while one player who did not play a single senior game earned between $800,000 and $900,000.
The average AFL player’s salary was $441,464 last year. The figure grew from $387,000 in 2022 and will reach $519,000 by 2027.
In comparison, the average AFLW player’s salary was $60,000 in 2023 and will rise to $82,000 by 2027.