Kane Cornes says it is important for the AFL playing group to be perceived favourably by the public.
As the pay negotiations between the AFLPA and the AFL continue amid the financial crisis caused by coronavirus, Cornes believes it would be an astute move by the players to swiftly get the fans onside.
“I understand and have sympathy for the players but I think we’ve seen this week what AFL football looks like without fans,” he said on SEN’s The Captain’s Run.
“It is a complete disaster.
“The advice the players have been given and the standard lines they’ve been reeling out clearly has been a directive from the AFLPA to try and get back some sympathy from the fans of what they are going through. It hasn’t worked.
“I think the reputation and the divide between the average fan, who most have lost their job this week and are facing unforeseen circumstances, are looking at the players saying you are going about this the complete wrong way.
“The last thing the players can do is afford to get the fans offside and tarnish their reputation a little bit with the way they’ve gone about this. The game will not survive without the fans.
“The fans will be the ones who get this game back on its feet when they flood back through the gates, when they come and watch the games, when they buy their merchandise, when they sit at home and subscribe to Foxtel which will get the revenue back into the game.
“Right now, the players have got to be really careful about how they are being perceived by the average fans.”
The former Port Adelaide midfielder also touched on comments made by Geelong star and AFLPA president Patrick Dangerfield regarding the need for greater transparency from the AFL in relation to the “finances of the game”.
“I thought it was in poor taste for Dangerfield to demand that the AFL show them their books,” he added.
“I thought, ‘Danger, you’re a smart guy, you are representing the players’. What more evidence do you need from the AFL for them to show you their books that they laid off 80 per cent of their staff on Monday.
“Surely that is enough evidence of what the AFL books look like right now. Do you think they wanted to lay off 80 per cent of their staff? Absolutely not.
“So why do you need to see the books? It’s plain to see there.
“I was fully supportive, at the time, of the players to get a massive pay increase. 28% of the revenue, absolutely, that is fair, that is what you deserve.
“But at the time they also did say 20% if the game revenue falls as well and you’ve got to take the good with the bad.”
A resolution is not yet forthcoming but SEN’s chief sports reporter Sam Edmund said this morning that things could be agreed upon prior to the weekend.
“I’ve been told this morning there’s a real chance this gets done today. Certainly everyone is hoping that’s the case,” he said on SEN Breakfast.
“The players are reluctant to take a set percentage beyond May 31, given there’s a chance they could be playing again by then, albeit a small one.
“The league wants a percentage to go towards satisfying the banks of course. Also the prospect of playing beyond the end of October has complicated things for the players because they’ll be playing without contracts in place.
“There’s not a lot of certainty at an uncertain time. Will there be crowds, gate takings, players on big contracts, players on minimum wages?
“There might be multiple deals drawn up and spending on what happens with the game, they go down that track.
“One player manager said yesterday there’s going to need to be a lot more trust on both sides, but it is hard not to see that the current CBA thats expires in 2022 isn’t redrawn. I think they’re going to have to go back to the drawing board with that.”