“I think this time around, the CBA has got to reward the superstars of the game better. I know it’s something the AFLPA will be looking at,” Nixon told The Sunday Age.
“Let’s face it. We go to watch the Abletts and Riewoldts every week. We don’t go to watch the bloke who is playing in the Sandringham reserves, do we?
“I think one of the concerns, definitely, from the top-end players is that their earning capacity hasn’t changed in 10 years. Without naming names, the biggest earner in 1999 is getting very similar to what the biggest earner is getting in 2010.”
The AFL’s 2008 annual report revealed two players – believed to Chris Judd and the Nixon-managed Nick Riewoldt – collected $1 million a year, with five in the next best range of $700,000 to $800,000.
Nixon said the best way to ensure a club could retain its best player, pointing to Geelong’s battle to retain Gary Ablett, would be to follow soccer’s A-League, which allows for a marquee talent to be paid outside the salary cap.
“I will be pushing hard and I have already had a preliminary discussion with [AFLPA chief executive] Matt Finnis about the fact that each club should be allowed to have a franchise player whereby that player’s salary is outside the cap,” he said.
“You can change that franchise player each year.
”It would mean a club wouldn’t lose their best player. It would mean their supporters wouldn’t be in fear of losing their best player and they shouldn’t be in fear of losing their best player just because new teams are coming into the competition.”
Under Nixon’s plan, there would not be a cap on how much a franchise player could be paid.
Nixon, who through the years has looked after superstars such as Wayne Carey, Gary Ablett snr and Ben Cousins, also said rules forbidding players from having private endorsements with rivals of official AFL sponsors needed to be overhauled.
While he believed the current CBA was one of the best in the world among professional sports, he felt the slice of the revenue pie that went to the players – understood to be in the range of 23 to 27 per cent – needed to be greater. The total player payments for all clubs this year is a maximum $127.2 million, with the average player wage about $220,000.
“There is always going to be the issue of what the right amount of the cap is in comparison to how much is put into the development of the game,” Nixon said.
“Clearly, with two new teams coming into the competition, a lot of money is going to be spent on them. How much is the cap going to raise in two years’ time when the TV rights are going to be renewed?”