AFLW expert and commentator Sam Lane believes the broadcast rights deal announced yesterday is a big step towards a professional competition.
The women’s competition will be televised by both Channel Seven and Fox Footy for the next four years, with the free-to-air broadcaster taking three games per week in 2019 and four games beyond that.
“AFLW will get more professional in the near future, no doubt about it,” Lane told SEN Breakfast.
“The broadcast deal does help that in terms of the stability with the investment. It’s worth an estimated $2.5 million.”
Lane feels AFLW needs to become a sport where the players can make a sustainable living as soon as possible.
“We’ll know it’s really landed when players aren’t talking about needing to juggle three, four, five other things and then train on top of that,” she said.
“Tiarna Ernst from the Bulldogs… works night shifts as a doctor, then goes to training.
“I remember in the first year I met a player on GWS’ list, Codie Briggs, she’d go to work and work in the bakery and then because it was so hard for her to transition from work to home, she just actually drives her car to the club and sleeps in the car before she would go into training.
“My gosh, if we were talking about the men’s competition, it would be a back-page news story, but this is just the reality of the playing group as it stands right now.
“That will change as things get more professional, there’s no surer thing.”
Lane said personally, she was frustrated by the fixture decision for 2019, where there will be a seven-week season, despite a total of 10 teams.
“I was with the disappointed players to be frank. I thought that in the third year we were ready to be looking at a longer fixture,” she said.
“People who are much better at strategizing fixtures and timings and the dollars and cents landed where they did.
“It means there will be seven home-and-away games despite the fact that there are more teams than in the previous two years.
“The optimist in me says at least there’s a semi-final that is included and that is good.
“Just going into the Grand Final really changed the make-up of the way teams are playing.
“I hope when we’re looking at 2020 that we are seeing a longer fixture.”
The AFLW season gets underway on February 2nd with Geelong and North Melbourne set to enter the competition.
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