By Mitch Guy

AFL Gippsland is finalising its proposed points systems and salary caps to be introduced to leagues across Gippsland in 2017, which are set to give the power back to football clubs in regards to player payments.
A sub-committee has worked with every league in regards to the player points system and salary cap, and are now waiting for feedback from clubs to introduce the salary caps.
Approximately $160,000 has been proposed for the Gippsland League, $120,000 has been proposed for the new West Gippsland League, $80,000 has been proposed for the Ellinbank, North Gippsland, East Gippsland and Mid Gippsland. The Alberton FNL is expected to be capped at around $80,000.
Although the salary cap will be in place for the 2017 season, AFL Gippsland region general manager Travis Switzer said this year was about ‘testing and educating’ in regards to the regulations.
“It’s very late to be bringing in the salary cap and a number of clubs have already signed players for next season, so the first season will be as much about education and assisting clubs to get used to submitting contracts,” he said.
“We’re going to be patient with clubs and try work with them this year, but the cap is still there for them to use when negotiating with players to put a bit of control back into hands of clubs.
“One of the reasons we’re setting a salary cap is because it’s been a real players market for a number of years, and I reckon clubs can use it as a basis for what they should be aiming for.
“It’s based on what the clubs have told us in terms of what they’re paying at the moment, so I guess there’s still going to be a number of clubs who aren’t paying anywhere near the amount, but there’s some paying more than that.
“It has been set reasonably high because it’s so late to bring in the salary cap. We don’t want clubs that are spending more to see a mass exodus of players.”
Sign-on fees for players have been completely outlawed under the new rules, following stories of players fetching multiple sign-on fees from different clubs in the past.
Although the salary cap regulations will not be strict in the first year, Switzer said AFL Gippsland would still come down hard on clubs who blatantly cheat the system.
“We’ll be monitoring aspects of the policy and if there are gross indiscretions, we’ll still be monitoring it,” he said.
“If we find out clubs are paying sign-on fees we’ll be investigating it further because it’s illegal to pay sign-on fees now.
“If a club spends $300,000 and the cap is $160,000, or something that really stands out to us and is a blatant breach, we’ll still be looking out for those.”

Salary cap proven to be successful
Switzer said AFL Barwon had seen the salary cap work in its first season.
“AFL Barwon undertook an introduction to the salary cap this year and they undertook eight audits of different clubs and they used a sub-contractor to do that,” he said.
“It came up with a number of different aspects clubs could improve on, but the most important thing that came out of it is that the eight clubs thought it was really good thing and it had helped them in bringing payments down which is great.
“There were no major breaches but a few little things clubs were found to be doing inappropriately.
“It was an education year but in the future clubs could potentially be fined or lose points and there will be audits of Gippsland clubs in the future.”