Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has lashed the AFL Players Association for proposing a single cap on football spending, saying that the parlous state of club finances and ridding clubs of debt should be the priority, rather than giving players a greater share.
McGuire said the clubs, which were ''not in great shape'', needed to be ''thriving'' and that the players' demands for a greater share of the pie - via a single cap on football spending, with no cap on players - would ''put a bullet through'' their future employment prospects.
He said it was ''about time'' that ''everyone, players included, make their workplaces successful and thriving. Otherwise, the lessons that have been learnt today - at Ford, Toyota and Alcoa - will be wasted on the AFL.''
McGuire said it was time to look after the clubs, which were the AFL's shareholders, not mere stakeholders. ''Let's sort out the economy of football, so that everybody continues to have a job and that we have a great competition.
''Let's see if we actually get a cap on football spending before we start spending the money in another way. Maybe if we get a cap on football spending the money might stay with clubs and get them out of debt, because the last time I looked players come and go, no one barracks for the AFL and the thing that keeps the whole football [world] going - clubs - is not in great shape.
''How about we get everybody healthy? The players were paid in advance three TV rights ago and then the AFL was sorted out, as far as their aspirations with Etihad and their offices and their aspirations ... maybe it's the clubs' turn to get to a position where they can breathe and build up because as much as the AFL do a great job in the community, it's the clubs that people are actually enamoured with, that will drive the competition, that will drive the income required for football to be strong.''
McGuire said the players had enjoyed ''a good run'' and that it was, in fact, former players whom the clubs hired in the football departments. The players, through their union, have noted that their share of football departments has decreased. The ''single cap'' was proposed to give them a higher share.
''I don't care what they say,'' McGuire said of the AFLPA. ''They've had a good run, now let the clubs catch up. The last time I looked, when they complained about the spending of football clubs, we were hiring former players, so this generation, thanks to where [the AFLPA] is going with this, they've actually got no future in the game once they hang up their boots. Three cheers for that idea.
''I hope the players do well ... because they won't have a job in the football industry going forward when everyone has to cut the football industry. I hope when the hat goes around for everyone who gets the [sack] in a football department that they actually dig deep with the extra money they've got pockets for the severance pay and the farewell package for them. And know that their association, and all those in favour of putting a cap on research and development and football and football club spending have put the bullet through their future employment.''