A maximum of three players per AFL team can be recognized as franchise marketing players, making them eligible for a $1,000 per game raise in exchange for making promotional appearances for their teams and the league.
The average salary of an AFL player is $110,000 per year. However, not all players will earn this on average; some may make less or more. The highest paid players are likely to be those who attract significant media attention, such as Mark Evans of the Brisbane Lions or Patrick McCartin of the GWS Giants.
The lowest paid players will typically receive $20,000-$30,000 per annum. These figures include other benefits that may be received by some players including housing and food but not including game expenses or other incentives that may be offered by some clubs.
AFL players are required to have a valid Australian Sports Commission "A" Licence to play football at any level. Those who have previously held international rules football or rugby union licenses are also permitted to continue to do so while playing with an AFL club. However, once the season has finished they must either have their sports license reinstated by the ASCC or find alternative employment within the sporting community to maintain their status as licensed athletes.
An AFL player's career can last from just one game to several years depending on how well they perform.
The average wage for a player is $363,000. Rookies are at the bottom of the scale. A first-year rookie earns $85,000 and receives match rewards of $5000 each game. These are the most speculative players—many do not participate in AFL games and hence do not earn match fees. The highest-paid players are in the final year of their contracts and receive a salary increase to $410,000.
The average wage includes bonuses such as match payments and appearance money. Some players can make far more than this because they play in higher-profile matches or win awards. For example, Adam Goodes was one of the best players before he fell victim to bullying and decided to retire from the game after 20 years.
Goodes made an average of $1 million per season during his career. This included bonuses which increased his earnings to over $3 million.
Other famous names on the list include Gary Ablett Jr., who has signed with Gold Coast Titans of the NRL; Bernie Vince, who plays in the United States' NFL; and Paul Williams, who plays in the United Kingdom's Premiership Rugby.
AFL players have been going on strike since 2011 when then-players union leader Andrew Demetriou proposed a deal that would have seen wages increase by 70 percent over four years. The league rejected the offer and negotiations have never started again.
As of 2021, the 100 highest-paid players in the game
In 2020, the average player pay for a listed player was $259, 651, down from $363, 430 in 2019. According to AFL Media, the top four earners in 2020 will be Jeremy Cameron, Lance Franklin, Jack Martin, and Dustin Martin. The trio was all paid at least $900,000 each. Overall, women's football has been able to attract high-profile players who have become role models for young girls looking to follow in their footsteps.
Cameron, who plays forward for the Sydney Swans, earned $1 million in 2020. He is the highest earner among current players. In 2019, he earned $950,000. The 32-year-old has won two Brownlow Medals and three Best & Fairest awards. He also holds the record for the longest goal kick in VFL/AFL history with 91 km/h (57 mph).
Lance Franklin is one of Australia's best ever athletes and is considered by many to be the greatest player in the history of the Australian Football League (AFL). A legendary forward, he has played 300 games for five different clubs, including two spells with the Sydney Swans. He is the only person other than Wayne Carey to win the Brownlow Medal three times. In 2020, Franklin will turn 33 years old. He has signed on with another club for another two seasons. His salary is expected to be around $3 million.