AFL s $1m player club to boom

It is the best-paying club in the AFL: the millionaires club.

And despite a slight hiccup in 2013, more and more players will earn seven figures as the salary cap rises in line with surging broadcast, sponsorship and membership revenues.

Footballers' salaries have grown more than twice as fast as average wages in the past 15 years as the game has shifted to a full-time career.

The average player took home $265,179 in 2013, compared with $101,957 in 1998 - a 160 per cent increase. In that time, the average male full-time wage rose from $43,000 to $75,000.

By 2016, an average player is tipped to earn $300,000 when the salary cap hits $10.2 million.

The AFL's annual player payments report said five footballers earned at least $1 million last year, down from eight in 2012.

The AFL never identifies its million-dollar men but best player Gary Ablett, Fremantle big man Aaron Sandilands, Greater Western Sydney star Tom Scully, St Kilda spearhead Nick Riewoldt, Sydney recruit Kurt Tippett and Carlton's Chris Judd are the men most often named.

Sydney's Lance "Buddy" Franklin is not expected to join the club immediately. His stunning $10 million, nine-year deal is heavily "back-ended", which means big paydays later to cater for a salary cap squeeze.

The first million-dollar player was believed to be Carlton's Anthony Koutoufides in 2007.

Players Association general manager of player development Brett Johnson expected more elite players to earn $1 million a year as the game grew.

As the salary cap increased, stars would have more negotiating power but he said it was important to increase payments for rookies and first-year players.

Mr Johnson said recent negotiations were aimed at a 25 per cent share of the game's revenue for player payments and a better work-life balance for athletes.

During the season, players get one day off a week and nine weeks off-season annual leave - six weeks of it free of any obligations.

The West Australian

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